Salsa Scoop> When Good Organizations Do Bad Things

When Good Organizations Do Bad Things

Tags: blog:nptech  |  blog:spam  |  Email
Back during World War II, the Soviets agitated increasingly impatiently for Roosevelt and Churchill to invade Europe in order to draw German military resources out of the eastern theater. What they got, at least until 1944 when the Red Army had pretty decisively turned the tide, was a lot of material aid via the Lend-Lease program ... to the point where Russians sarcastically referred to the Selected & Processed American Meats in circulation as "the second front." One of the nice things about working with nonprofits is that they're rarely of a mind to open a second front. But every once in a while ... Spam -- the definition and policing of same -- is almost infinitely complicated. But anyone can generally avoid running afoul of the spam police by the commonsense practice of not being evil ... and it's more than possible to be evil in practice regardless of how virtuous one is in mission statement. This recent article to help businesses avoid accidental spamming is of use to nonprofits as well. Numbers 2 and 5 -- "repurposing" lists and using out-of-date information -- are probably the most common ones we see. "Opt-in" lists that haven't been used for three years aren't really opt-in lists any more ... and even if they were, they'd have such a high proportion of outdated addresses that they'd likely be flagged as junk on sight by major mail providers like Yahoo and AOL. But one might be surprised -- we are -- by the extent to which organizations can occasionally justify to themselves the most egregious spamming practices by reference to the importance of their own work. I mean -- without naming names here, using e-mail addresses you've collected in a non-opt-in capacity is spamming. Scraping e-mail addresses from websites is spamming. And we'll know about it too. Especially if our addresses have been scraped, but even, thanks to the resultant cascade of hard-bounces and spam reports, if they haven't. We'll have to put on our black hats, which we really hate and which don't really fit us. We've talked to some extent about the intricacies of spamming practices and the fairly tedious lengths we have to go to keep our noses clean with the mailbox providers. But while some of them -- like care about flaggable keywords like "mortgage" in mail text -- do resolve to an individual organization's own control, nonprofits really shouldn't have to learn most of them. That's what they pay us (or someone like us) to do. They just have to be their non-evil selves. As Michael Gilbert points out today, an ounce of authenticity is worth a ton of second front.


Please login to post comments