I wrote last week about the ethical dilemma facing fundraisers who see their donors making gifts on credit cards. As usually happens when I'm too far out in front of the accepted debate - many have been skeptical.
My favorite response was from a reader who told me, "I doubt that my donors who are making donations are the type of people who have big credit card debts." Seriously? I'm think that's pretty naive.
Your donors are not millionaires. Let's face it - most Americans carry credit card debt they can't afford to pay off all once. In fact, just today TransUnion released a survey conducted by Zogby that found 61% of Americans said they will spend less or not go on vacation this summer. When asked why, "Thirty-five percent cite concern about credit card debt, and nearly half (47 percent) cite concern about other debt or financial obligations."
Let me do one better:
A 2007 survey by CardTrak.com found that American households with credit card debt owed a median of $6,600, and that less than one-third of households pay of their balances monthly. The survey also found that 13 percent of those who carry credit card debt have balances in excess of $25,000.I think it is foolish to assume your donors don't have credit card debt. For many people, making a donation is an emotional reaction to a well reasoned understanding of the problems facing our world... donors don't check their debt balances first before responding to a nonprofit's call for help.
I'm sure that Liz Pulliam Weston disagrees with me, but let me ask these two questions to get the debate started. Do you personally have credit card debt? Have you made a donation in the past 12 months?