There is something about this picture that I just don’t like!

Just the other day I visited my parents to drop off our dog before leaving on a business trip. I stopped at a gas station near their home to gas up before weaving my way to the interstate and ultimately the first stop on my trip. As I pulled into the gas station, I saw something that made me recoil and react negatively to a non-profit organization. This is what I saw:

Charity air service

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen a gas station air pump being used to solicit money for a charity. In fact, there is one at the 7-Eleven near my house, and I believe that I even took a picture of that pump and incorporated into a blog post a few years ago.

The fact of the matter is . . . every time I see something like this it bothers me for some unknown reason. So, I decided to make a list of all the possible things that might be offending my fundraising soul:

  • I remember when gas station air used to be FREE. Now, when I need a little air in my tires, I am forced to make a donation.
  • I don’t know anything about this non-profit organization, and I don’t make a habit out of donating money to agencies about which I know nothing. What am I supposed to do? Whip out my smart phone, surf to this organization’s website (which is prominently displayed on the air machine) and do some research?
  • There is no case for support. It is almost as if they are saying, “Feel good about paying a dollar for air because it supports a charity.
  • I don’t really know “how much” of my contribution goes to this non-profit organization. Are they getting 75%, 50%, 25% . . . 1%??? Perhaps, they’re getting 100% of the proceeds, but I doubt it because the phrase “. . . a portion of . . .appears on the machine.
  • This is a faith-based organization, but they don’t say anything about being a christian organization. There are people who don’t like to support non-secular causes. There are also people who are secular, but who only like to support causes affiliated with their religious institutions. Could it be that no mention is made on the air machine about religion because they are trying to maximize their appeal? If so, perhaps the issue of transparency is bothering me.

Let me be clear. I don’t have anything bad to say about this non-profit organization. In fact, I’ve done a little Googling around and it looks like they do good work.

However, the points I’m trying to make today are:

  1. Non-profit organizations need to be careful with where they put their name.
  2. All cause-related marketing opportunities are not equal (e.g. ask me to donate a dollar at the check-out versus make me donate a dollar when I need air).

Please take a good, hard look at the picture in this post. Does it bother you? If so, why? If I’m being overly sensitive, let me know why you think so. Have you ever seen something similar that evoked a similar reaction? Please scroll down and use the comment box below to share your thoughts.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

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