SDC is 5 years young!
God bless SDC. They’re like the Michael Jordan of baseball of advocacy. Check out this email they recently distributed among their Facebook contacts:
June is Save Darfur’s Anniversary Month. Five years ago, this organization was created help [sic] raise the awareness of the crisis in Darfur. Together with activists across the U.S. and around the world, we’ve saved lives by demanding funding and access for peacekeepers and humanitarian aid in Darfur. But there is still much more to be done to ensure peace in Darfur and all of Sudan.
In honor of our Anniversary, we’ve set a goal to raise $5,000 by July 15. You can help, too! Consider making a contribution today. And if you have a Birthday in June or July, why not donate it to Save Darfur? Create a Birthday Wish ( http://www.causes.com/savedarfur/birthdays?m=80897a88 ) and ask all of your friends to donate to Save Darfur. Facebook Causes makes it easy.
You’ll help us continue to pressure President Obama to lead for peace in Sudan. And, all of your friends will see that you care about the situation in Darfur. Create your Birthday Wish now ( http://www.causes.com/savedarfur/birthdays?m=80897a88 ) and help us end the Crisis in Darfur.
The Causes Team
Where to begin? The concept, the language – there are many things wrong with this. However, we here at SDAP aren’t just about criticism, we’re also about solutions. So below I spell out the major problems I see with the email, then for each mistake I discuss three possible alternative ways to do it better. Now let’s break down the lessons to be learned from this so that we may all walk away a little wiser; shall we?
Use misleading language about how you help Darfuris. They say that they’ve “saved lives by demanding funding and access for peacekeepers and humanitarian aid in Darfur.” They should specify exactly what type of funding and illustrate exactly how they saved lives because this language could be misinterpreted and readers could mistakenly think that SDC helps fund humanitarian aid.
3 Better Ways:
1. Use language that’s more precise, like “federal funding” instead of just “funding.” Words are powerful and can easily mislead, so you need to be careful.
2. Maybe – you know, since it’s a fundraising email and all – you could explain how the $5000 will be spent instead of just saying “it’s in honor of our birthday.” Nothing too in-depth, maybe just a quick line or two about what program it’ll go to. Would that be so hard? Work with me here, people.
3. Screw it. Go full hog. Claim that SDC has clearly helped Darfuris more than any other organization in the world. Furthermore, claim that they will end the crisis in exactly 3 weeks through imperialistic military intervention. Then provide a video simulation of what the intervention will look like, complete with phallic/paternalistic imagery, like a closeup of the thick, glistening, steel shaft of an American flagpole being plunged into Africa’s loamy, fertile soil (And you don’t even have to be gentle! It’s not like it’s Africa’s first time being exploited by imperialistic powers or anything, so feel free to really go to town.) and crowds of grateful Darfuris throwing rose petals at their Western liberators. Also promise that SDC will cure AIDS, invent unicorns, and give each donor a pet T-rex made of lava with dragon wings and awesome machine gun flamethrowers for arms.
Sell African suffering to over-privileged American kids. As they say, the medium is the message. I think that’s in the Bible somewhere . Anyway, by launching this campaign exclusively on Facebook, it appears that SDC is targeting a young audience. Kids don’t read direct mail, but they sure as hell loves them some Facebook! Could SDC be trying to make up for the fact that they will no longer handle the Dollars for Darfur campaign by recruiting new child soldiers young activists? And does throwing yourself a birthday really help you target children? For kids to be impressed by that crap, wouldn’t SDC need to throw a party with, like, a pony and tranquilizer guns and stuff?
3 Better Ways:
1. Use threats. For every dollar that kids don’t donate, promise to stab an adorable puppy in the face (as opposed to one of those busted puppies you’re always hearing about).
2. Use guilt. Tell them that Daddy drinks, Mommy cries all night and their creepy uncle touches them all because they don’t donate money to SDC.
3. Screw it. Go full hog. You really wanna get little kids’ money? Here’s how you do it: Get a windowless van, park it outside a Chuck E. Cheese and lure kids into it; hit them over the head, steal their lunch money and leave them unconscious in a ditch somewhere, tied up with duct tape. Then donate the lunch money to SDC. It’s important to dress like a clown when you do this to really scar them for life. (I know it seems unhealthy that the first place I go for a cheap laugh is molestation, but there’s a reason for it; I swear! You see, my mom is my #1 fan and she loves molestation jokes. Hi mama!) Seriously though, clowns are terrifying.
Celebrate wildly inappropriate benchmarks. In the earlier days of SDC, employees used to brag that they were trying to put themselves out of business. That is, they realized that SDC’s existence was intimately tied to the existence of what they called a genocide in Darfur. Fast forward to ’09, and we find them celebrating their freakin’ birthday. If, all of a sudden, they can celebrate their fifth anniversary without implicitly celebrating the fifth year of the genocide, is it because they believe their existence is no longer tied to the existence of the genocide? Maybe they haven’t thought that deeply about it, but at the very least, proudly announcing their anniversary seems to be in bad taste.
3 Better Ways:
1. Celebrate, just do it in private. Don’t announce it publicly. Some celebrations should be kept behind closed doors anyway.
2. Admit that the idea was a mistake, suspend the “celebration” and move on. We all make mistakes, you just gotta get over them and keep truckin.’
3. Screw it. Go full hog. Buy a cake with a midget stripper – or whatever you’re into – inside, throw yourself a big party, beg little kids for money, etc. You can even pitch the idea to Hallmark so they can rush at the chance to corner the market. It would be really easy for them to make “Happy Fifth Birthday to the Darfur Genocide” cards, as they could display them between their “Happy Birthday to My Least Disappointing Child” cards and “Congratulations on Your Complication-Free Abortion” cards. (Oh, and abortion jokes! Mama loves those too!)
Encourage people to care because it’s popular. The line “all of your friends will see that you care about the situation in Darfur” just kills me! Are they actually encouraging people to care about Darfur because their friends will think it’s cool? What are they smoking?
3 Better Ways:
1. Suggest that people should care about Darfur – nay, many issues – for reasons unrelated to their own social status.
2. Point out how other people jump on bandwagons too. Additionally, this could help them discredit their enemies’ reputations, which is fortunate considering they aren’t doing a very good job of discrediting their enemies’ critiques of the movement. It’ll be easy. Just make stuff up. For example, maybe they could describe how Mahmood Mamdani is just the poor man’s Frantz Fanon who champions anti-colonialism only because it’s hip in academic circles and it makes it easier for him to score with hot grad students. Nobody’s perfect, everyone’s a wannabe. Even – no, especially – SDC’s enemies.
3. Screw it. Go full hog. After all, what’s the point of caring about an issue if all your friends don’t know you care about it? Just tell everyone to do everything for attention. Hell, even try to get your senior staff members to do things for the publicity. Oh wait. They already do.
Never proofread anything. There’s a mistake in the second sentence. Sorry, I meant “There’s a mistake the second sentence.” Good grief!
3 Better Ways:
1. Just start proofreading your freakin’ documents! If you don’t want to, just have a colleague look over them before you send them off into the world. It’s not that hard! Admittedly, this blog may have some spelling misssteaks and grammaticular; rerrors, but our posts aren’t designed to solicit money. We’re also just representing ourselves, not a larger organization.
2. Don’t want to waste staff time on proofreading? Hire a blind, dyslexic chimp with some bizarre kind of palsy to draft and send your emails. You can pay him in bananas, and his work will probably be more eloquent than the email above.
3. Screw it. Go full hog. Proofreading is for pussies. Real men just type whatever the hell they want and hit “send,” dispelling it into the ether without a second thought. Damn straight! Then they hop into their Hummers, hit the gym to “blast” their “quads” and listen to the All American Rejects before drenching themselves in Axe body spray and “hitting the club” in hopes of banging some drunk, barely conscious skank. Kind of a lot of effort, but when you have such a tiny penis what else are you gonna do? A big, dumb meat head who acts tough to hide his embarrassing shortcomings: If there’s a better metaphor for the save Darfur movement, I haven’t heard it.