Words Matter – Nonprofit Fundraising and the Washington Redskins

Posted on October 19, 2009. Filed under: Customer Service, Fundraising, Leadership, Non-profits |

Words matter.

The order of the words (and sentences) matter.

I went to the Redskins football game yesterday (Sunday, October 18, 2009) because I had an opportunity to buy three face value tickets, and my sons (age 9 and 10) had never been to an NFL game before.

For the uninitiated the Washington Redskins have a proud football tradition, and during the glory days at RFK Stadium I was able to go to about one game per season and loved it. Several decades and several owners later, Dan Snyder is now the owner of the Redskins and while a very successful businessman, the new FedEx stadium is known for outrageous fees for almost everything.

Getting back to my point about the order of words, this is what the coolers that the vendors carry have written on them:

BEER $8:00 Welcome to FedEx Field

Which seems to speak volumes about the “gouge them” attitude of the owner. Just think, even the simple step of putting the welcome first, would change the tone at least a little bit:

Welcome to FedEx Field
Beer $8.00

I think organizations often forget that people are people first, they’re not cash machines for either non-profit fundraising or for sports owners to get even wealthier, and the organizations that forgot that, are doomed to failure. It may not happen right away, but over time the trust that has been established between the organization and the donor or the fan erodes, and it takes a long long time to restore it.


Bill Huddleston

P.S. This is the game where the Redskins lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 14 to 6, and after the game Coach Zorn had his play calling duties taken away from him.

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