In my e-mail box, I received a letter "from" Jim Wallis of Sojourners, offering me the "opportunity" to send Sojourners money!
I was irritated. Not because Sojourners is trying to raise money because, of course, as many people will tell me, they "need" to. What annoyed me was the smarminess of the letter. Addressing me by first name as if I were "Jim's" personal friend. Couching sending them money as an "opportunity." The creepy hackneyed hyberpole: "enormous," "Incredible." Treating the reader, without irony, as a fool. Maybe it was the absence of irony that bothered me most. Wanting absolutely nothing of me but my money and not even offering me a laugh for my buck. It reminded me of an old Monty Python skit where a doctor comes to pay a house call but ignores the patient while he runs around the house in a crazed way stuffing his empty black doctor's bag with any cash he can find. Of course, the skit was funny.
Here is an organization that prides itself on being different from "those people" on the other side of the political divide. Yet it seems to mirror standard corporate fundraising tactics. It seems to put all its faith in money to solve problems. Hhhm. Is it putting first the kingdom or filthy lucre? Are they anything but a mirror of the thing they purport to hate and want to "reform?" I imagine I am supposed to be naive enough to see sending them money as an "opportunity," but not so naive as to think they could "do it without my support (money)?"
I spent more than a decade in marketing and among many tasks I wrote what quaintly used to be called "direct mail" letters like the one from Sojourners. They're used because they're "proven to be effective." But just because something is an effective fundraising technique, does that justify using it? Not to be sanctimonious, but can you, Sojourners, really pour new wine into old wineskins?
I "replied" to the letter. Here's my response:
Thank you so much for contacting me personally and by first name.
In such a time as this, with both "enormous possibilities" and "incredible challenges," I too want to keep Sojourners work "alive and strong."
I am a religion journalist who would like to make you a gift worth more than a check for measly lucre: the opportunity of hiring me.
I will give you insightful, accurate and intelligent stories and columns for a reasonable salary. I will thus help you keep Sojourners work alive and strong. In fact, I will make it more alive and stronger. I am an "opportunity."
Under the new Obama proposed tax structures, this will will you a tax break of $3,000. Hiring talented people like me is part of the challenge and possibility to make a real difference in a failed economy.
Please e-mail me for my resume and more information.
Do you think I'll hear from them? :)