A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Fundraiser

Today, when I checked into OAC, I noticed that someone kicked in $25 to the fundraiser. Thank you, whoever you are.

As I watch us struggle to raise what is, after all, a pitifully small sum of money, I recall a time, a few years ago, when I was, for my sins, International Vice-Chair of Democrats Abroad, the branch of the U.S. Democratic Party that gets out the vote among U.S. citizens living overseas. One of the prerogatives of the office was serving, ex officio, on the Democratic National Committee, which meant that one day, at a meeting in Washington, D.C., I got to hear a party official talk about fundraising. What she said was shocking.

She began by observing that professional fundraisers classify donors by the number of zeros in their donation, from one to six. She then asked us what was the only category in which the Democratic Party, the party of the people, had consistently done better than our Republican opponents. 

Did you, like me, think it must be one, two, or three-zero donations? The correct answer is six zeros. That's right, donations in hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

She went on to explain that Democratic party fundraising was like an old-fashioned champagne class. Not a flute, one of the ones with a wide, shallow cup at the top, a long thin stem, and a small flat base at the bottom. 

Did we know, then, where our Republican opponents, the party of the plutocrats were beating us hollow? The answer should now be apparent, in two, three, and four-zero donations. 

How could that be? The answer is simple. The Republican base includes a lot of cultural conservatives, church goers who habitually pledge substantial sums to their churches (some actually tithe) and small business people who cheerfully pay up when asked to donate to causes supported by their clubs (Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, that sort of group). A few hundred dollars a year to support the party of their choice? No big deal.

In contrast, liberals, progressives, people on the left who proclaim the values of community, turn out to be a remarkably miserly, tight-fisted lot. They will make a lot of noise when that's easy (I am not talking about those who turn out for demonstrations like OWS). Reach in their pockets for less than the cost of a fast food lunch to support the work of people who have put in endless volunteer hours to make something like OAC possible? They talk bit about reciprocity, but when push comes to shove....

I do hope I am not talking about you, dear colleague. Six thousand people? Three hundred bucks? A lousy 50 cents per person? Come on. Do what's right.

 

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Comment by A. Ashkuff on November 15, 2011 at 7:59am

Okay, okay.

Hold the show.

 

First, I just tried to give you guys my money, and the interface kept insisting that my card number was wrong. Second, getting to this nonfuctioning interface required more than three clicks (a mortal sin in web design). Third, I imagine a few people felt frustrated by having to create an unnecessary Amazon account in order to donate. Lastly, I'm afraid the prevailing cyberculture expects social networks to offer free services, and cover expenses with ad placement. Indeed, I'd venture a guess that some users perceive their very presence on your network over another as something YOU owe THEM for, because they've just bumped up your CPV earnings, not the other way around.

 

I'm not trying to sound like an ingrate, here.

I like OAC, and just tried to (but could not) donate.

I'm just giving critical business advice.

 

If we're to ask users for money, when other other social networks do not, then we need a clearly defined value proposition for doing so. Furthermore, we need a friendlier, more convenient, interface to accept that money.

 

That's just my two cents.

Would've like to make it fifteen bucks, though.

 

--- Ashkuff | http://www.ashkuff.com | Venturing out of “armchair” scholarship and into action, one anthropologist tackles business, occultism, and violence! He gets spooked and roughed up a lot.

Comment by Paul Wren on November 8, 2011 at 5:52pm
I'd like to thank the twelve members of the OAC who have so far made a donation.  You know who you are!  Thanks so much.
Comment by Jacob Lee on November 1, 2011 at 10:36pm
In particular, why not both?
Comment by Jacob Lee on November 1, 2011 at 8:27pm

But I wanted to pay with PayPal, and would have. How is this system better?

 

Comment by Huon Wardle on November 1, 2011 at 4:36pm
That is a noble message - and I have now coughed up my dues. The new system is very easy; especially for anyone who buys books from Amazon, and is certainly better than last year's paypal modus.

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