David Saint

5 Dec 2017, 10:41

E-cards? Bah humbug!

A big “thank you” to everyone who sent me an actual Christmas card in 2017 – and also to the handful of people who (unless they were very clever!) seem to have sent me a genuinely personal e-card.

But to be honest I am less grateful to the increasing number of people (many but by no means all of whom I know) who seemingly send a blanket e-card to everybody in their Outlook contacts. What’s that all about?!

Sending Christmas cards is about saying to individuals (however fleetingly, and albeit often only once a year with nothing in between) that I am thinking about you, and wishing good things for you in the festive season and beyond.

What do e-cards say? “I’ve no idea who you are, but here’s another email to clutter up your in-box. Enjoy!” They may also say “I really can’t be bothered with choosing and writing cards, buying the stamps, and taking them to the post office. You know why? Because you’re not worth it!” Sometimes they actually also say “I’m saving money on cards this year and giving the money to charity instead”. So what’s wrong with “as well”?

With the increasing use of (anti)social media, I did wonder whether this year would be the beginning of the end for Christmas cards. But no, happily the numbers have held up, each card bringing a (yes, OK, fleeting) smile to our lips as we open the envelope, enjoy the picture, see who it’s from, see which charity’s cards they have bought this year (often a few surprises there!) and then read any brief message – or the more extensive annual missive that often drops out.

What conclusions might charities draw from my Scrooge-like musings?

  • Encourage your supporters to keep sending Christmas cards – remind them of the real joy they bring, rather than the grimace that another e-card brings.
  • Think carefully about whether to enter the e-card fray by selling them to your supporters (yes, we have received a few of those too). The margins may be greater than on card cards, and you don’t have to worry about unsold stock. But do they do much to enhance your brand?
  • Think very very very carefully about sending e-cards to valued supporters. If they are valued, they are worth a second class stamp. If they are not valued, they still shouldn’t have to put up with more clutter in the in-box.

And a Happy New Year to all my readers (whoever you are!)

David Saint

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