This past weekend I was driving in the car, and as a true marketer, found myself unable to turn off my local NPR station's Fall Membership Drive (sad, I know).
Now, this was happening during a broadcast of This American Life, and I found myself laughing so hard at host Ira Glass' fundraising tactics tears were rolling down my face driving down the highway.
Let me say here, that I have tried to find a clip of this on the web, and just couldn't but here is the basic jist:
Ira encouraged his regular listeners to turn in friends, family, co-workers who were regular NPR listeners but never gave any money to the station. And what did he do, he called up just one such listener, I believe her name was Elizabeth, to discuss her lack of giving and as he said, "shame" people like her one by one!
Amongs other things Ira and Elizabeth discussed was why she did not give, and in particular, how buying one round of drinks for her friends was probably more expensive than the NPR membership giving level. Elizabeth was a great sport about this, I have to say, I would have been much more mortified.
This whole conversation really got to the heart of Gen Yish people. We've got money to buy all our friends drinks on a Saturday night, or maybe even a Wednesday night, but we can't spare a few bucks for something bigger than ourselves? If we are so generous with our friends and family, willing to go into debt just to entertain, perhaps we are not as charitably spendthrift as some might think? Perhaps buying drinks is a form of one-upmanship, a competitive streak. Should nonprofits try to engage young people in a more competitive tone?
This one thing the shamed Elizabeth and Ira Glass could agree on: if you took all the money that people spend buying their friends rounds, NPR local stations would probably never have to run another membership campaign ever again.