New campaign is terrible.

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When I got my mail today, I saw Jhan Marco's face through the front of the envelope. He is a 13 year old boy I currently sponsor.  I had a large envelope in my hand so my knee jerk reaction was,"Whoo! I got a letter from Jhan and it contains a photo!"

I feel Compassion used Jhan Marco's face peeking out the envelope to trick me into opening a plea to sponsor an adorable, chubby cheeked, four year old from Bangladesh. I feel Compassion putting his picture right next to Jhan's and the caption, "What does Jhan Marco have that Akhlas Ahmed doesn't?"  is dirty pool. "YOU FOR A SPONSOR!"  it shouted! Then it went on to say he was just waiting for my approval so he could be sponsored by me - just like Jhan.

I would LOVE to sponsor all kids. But my reality is I'm at my maximum and I am too old to sponsor a four year old. I am supposed to have my account flagged to only choose my own children.

I have been removed from mailing list for Compassion Sundays and solicitations, but that seems to only last for about a year and then they start again. 

I am feeling pressured and terribly disappointed. 

Sincerely, Kris Rasmussen
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Kris Rasmussen

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  • tricked

Posted 6 months ago

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Shannon Massey, Employee

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Hi Kris, 
I am so sorry you are feeling disappointed by this new campaign we sent. We completely understand you feeling this way, as we have actually had this feedback from other supporters as well. We want to apologize from all of our hearts if this felt offensive or inappropriate in any way! Our true mission is to find loving, encouraging sponsors for each child. We are sending all of the feedback we receive to our marketing team so that they know the effect these appeals have on our supporters and thus they can use this feedback going forward. In addition, I have re-removed you from the mailing list for all of our appeals to ensure this does not happen again. Thank you so much for taking the time to provide us this feedback so that we can continue to create positive appeals and treat our supporters with the respect they deserve! 
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Kris Rasmussen

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Thank you for addressing this Shannon and for forwarding the feedback to the marketing team.
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Adam

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It used to be that Compassion just offered child sponsorship as an opportunity to minister to a child in need with no pressure do so. I felt respected by Compassion in every way when I first became a sponsor years ago. At some point they moved away from that approach in favor of high-pressure manipulation tactics. I think it happened around the same time they decided to completely change everything about the letter writing program and didn't bother to let the sponsors know. I didn't feel respected then and I haven't since. It seems to me that Compassion has completely changed in the last few years. I liked the way it used to be.
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Shannon Massey, Employee

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Hi Adam, 
We appreciate your feedback. We do take each and every bit of feedback to heart and hope that we can use it to improve our ministry in the future.  
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Adam

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No ma’am, y’all do not. I’m afraid that’s the problem.
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Teresa Dawn

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I didn't receive the campaign because I'm opted out to other mailings (I assume that's why, it's very easy to opt out for anyone that doesn't want them!) Mainly because I figure it saves trees and a stamp for Compassion and if I did want to sponsor again I'd go to their website and do it.  


If I'd seen this advertisement I admit I'd have been disappointed that it wasn't something about my kid because of the picture, but then I'd have just recycled it and moved on.  As for feeling listened to, I do feel Compassion listens, but they just can't always change things because a handful of people don't like it. 

 In the long run, they see exactly what methods get the most sponsors and help the most kids and need to do that, and sometimes it'll be trial and error but I can't imagine they would keep budgeting for something that they discovered did NOT work and cost them more in advertising than what they brought in, so if something like this pops up rather than feel pressure, if you can't afford it, just try to think "Yay! Compassion's doing something that will help this kid get a sponsor so I don't have to worry about him/her as now he'll find one quickly."


I used to sponsor for another large organization and they used the exact same tactics, as well as a couple of smaller ones.  It's quite common so my thoughts are that they do it because it works and gets new sponsors.  If that's the case, I can't fault them because the more sponsors they have the more they can do to help the kids, and in the long run that's what's important!  


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Adam

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The Bible says, "Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." I don't think the most important thing in the long run is the size of our accomplishments; I think what's most important in the long run is that we love God and love others.
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Kris Rasmussen

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Jesus cares about ALL people. He also cares about honesty and integrity.

That is why five years ago I chose to partner with Compassion over the other large organization.

I do not believe Jesus would approve of "whatever works" tactics. It felt wrong.
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Adam

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Teresa, I will share these thoughts in response but it sounds like we just see things differently. I think things are different now. This forum that we’re talking on was completely different three years ago. It was a community. I know you remember that. I think the changes started when the new letter system went into place. I bought a Spanish magazine subscription a few weeks before it was announced that we could suddenly no longer send paper items like before. Compassion made the decision to not tell sponsors about those upcoming changes. That’s the biggest thing. Then the upgrades went on for a year and a half. I didn’t even get anything in the mail about the upgrades until the beginning of 2017, when more upgrades were announced. Then, I put something about it on the Facebook group and I was told to basically just be quiet and pray about it. All the while it seemed like there was a big push to get new sponsors at big events with little effort being given to keeping the existing sponsors informed. Then there was the automated phone system that went into place that I seemed to get lost in whenever I would call there for a while. Now, I see posts like this. This is not the first one I’ve seen. The last one I commented on and then it was closed. It used to seem like Compassion was small even though it wasn’t. I liked that. It seems big now. I would have liked them to tell us a few months in advance about all the big changes coming down the line. Why didn’t they do that? I would actually still love to know. Regarding this letter, they sent it to existing sponsors and they put a message on it that said what does this kid have that the one you sponsor doesn’t. It wasn’t just a photo with information. It was meant to create an emotion and a sense of urgency, at least it seems that way. I don’t like when people try to pressure me to do something and I bet the Compassion staff don’t either.
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Teresa Dawn

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Yes I do agree we just see it different.  I remember the OC community, but they made the move to fb (this page was around at the same time as the community, I never felt like this replaced it I felt the FB page did) and the FB page had a very similar feel to me, I barely noticed the move.  (Though I'm not on FB at the moment I reactivate my account and check in every 3-4 months and keep in touch with my sponsor friends via email so never felt a sense of community loss).  It is weird you weren't aware of the letter changes ahead of time...  I was definitely told before hand.  I knew it was coming over a year in advance and was counting down the days until they came into place.  I didn't know everything about it but a lot of it.  In fact 6 months before I had received some scanned letters as "trials" to show what they would look like!

I live in Canada and have half my kids on a Canadian account and sadly in Canada the upgrades are still going on.   It's actually glitched to the point where the kids cannot hear from us (not all but some.  4 of my kids have not received a single letter from me in 18 months though I write 2-4/month :( :( :(   Frustrating for sure, but still for the best in the long run I think and I eagerly await the day it is fixed.  



Besides the letter writing upgrades which, despite the glitches in Canada, I LOVE (I've been getting letters within days of them being written) Compassion itself feels the same to me.  When I talk to staff on here, it feels the same, when I talk to other sponsors it feels the same, when I write to my kids it feels the same. I don't know about the automated phone thing though, I don't call just email/live chat when I need something so I wouldn't have noticed that difference.

I am sorry you haven't had that same experience though :(
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Hilary Hopkins

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I'm so curious how some people new so far in advance about all the letter changes, while others had no idea. I knew nothing about the letter changes until it was posted on the FB group a month before it took place. I was very active in the FB group, followed this page, checked my account several times a day, and had done multiple sponsor tours and had heard nothing about it. I know this thread is not about the new letter changes, but I'm always so surprised when I hear people say that they knew way in advance that it was coming. Did Compassion tell a select group (that I was not part of) in advance to gage reactions? It's over and done with and I've moved on, but sometimes it still stings a little that I wasn't part of the special few that knew this was coming and had time to prepare.
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Teresa Dawn

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Hi Hilary, no I wasn't told privately, I knew about it because it was posted about here and in the old OC and FB. BUT it was mostly in reply to others, not new announcement posts.  Like someone would post a question "Can we send puzzles?" And staff would say "Right now you can but soon you won't be able to because of a huge change coming and we are going to revamp the system".  Some comments were more specific than others. 

I did not all the different rules, ( I don't think STAFF knew all the rules about what could/couldn't be sent very far in advance) that I knew about a month or two before but considered that notice too and the year ahead of time I just knew that Big changes were coming, that we may not be able to send puzzles (specifically, maybe more) anymore because of huge updates and they were looking into what we would/wouldn't be able to send, and about 6 months before (in October, it changed in April) I did get my first scanned letter as a preview to what they would look like.  That might have been through Compassion Canada but I posted it on the FB group and I remember others posting theirs too
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Susan, Sponsor and Donor Relations, Social Media

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Hi everyone! I just wanted to jump in here real quick to say that I am reading and taking note of what you all are saying. Thank you so much for the feedback. We really do appreciate it and will take it into consideration!

Also, let me clarify a bit. Hilary, it makes me sad to hear you talking about feeling left out. :( Please know that it is not that you are not a part of some "secret" group, but rather a reflection of the fact that sometimes our partner countries choose to do things slightly differently. Teresa is from Canada and Compassion Canada had decided to notify sponsors much sooner than any other partner country. Two or three months prior to the letter processing updates, Compassion staff were informed updates were coming and we were given a rough timeline. However, we did not have the full picture yet on how it all was going to work. Compassion USA decided to wait until we could fully anticipate questions from sponsors, etc. I did post on OC Facebook prior to when Compassion USA sent out the official announcement, because I was aware that Compassion Canada had already been informing their sponsors of the changes for a few months, and there are quite a few people on OC Facebook who live in Canada. This means that supporters were regrettably given advance notice at varying times depending on where they live and what groups they were a part of. Perhaps one positive outcome of all of these changes (and what clearly went wrong with them) is that we learned quite a bit about communicating with sponsors and the partner countries are now more unified than we ever have been before.
(Edited)
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Kris Rasmussen

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Teresa -

I have felt changes in Compassion since 2012. I used to take the regular, honest, upfront flyers to sponsor a specific child to my laundromat and leave them with the magazines, or to the Farmer's Market and put them up on the bulletin board. I wanted everyone in my community to know about Compassion.

I need to give you a bit more information about this new campaign. I described the first page above. The second page says: 

 " Dear Kris,

I recently read a story where a man who had grown up in poverty was describing what it was like. What he said made me shiver. 

     He said poverty is like a 100-tentacled shadow monster (insert a close up of 4 year old Akhlas chubby cheeked, worried face) that looms over you wherever you go. Day or night, its dark arms wrap around you and cover every inch of you in despair, terror, and hopelessness."

It goes on from there for another page and a half but you get the idea. It just screams scare tactics. I'm not callous enough to recycle it and forget about Akhlas because I know he is a real person! It goes on to say I rescued Jhan from the dark and I wouldn't want to leave Akhlas alone in the dark in paralyzing fear, physical pain and despair, would I? This is meant to keep me awake at night.

I wouldn't share this one, it wouldn't be right playing on someone's emotions like that . To me this is an extreme change, going from something I wanted to share to something I am ashamed of.

 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.  Proverbs 4:23

Compassion is/was close to my heart and I want them to be aware these changes are not good. My experience is close to Adam's.
(Edited)
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Teresa Dawn

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I haven't had one like that from Compassion but very similar from several other large organizations and I did recycle them.  It's not that I don't care about the kids, it's that I know that I am at my max budget wise.  To sponsor another child would mean I'm no longer able to afford to feed my own daughter or afford a roof over her head.  I'm not one to eat out more than a couple times of year, no movies, no cable, no cellphone, I'm def. maxed out with the sponsorships I have.  Recycling it is not callous on my part, I'm just at my max. But I'd also be comfortable doing it and not feel pressure because I know that 1) Not everone else is in my situation and someone else WILL sponsor this Akhlas and honestly, it's probably because of this note that someone else will and 2) I know that, like my other kids, if I was meant to be their sponsor I'd feel led by God to do it  regardless of my circumstances. 
I would probably say a prayer for the kid, but I'd still recycle the paper and I really don't feel "callous"  for doing it.  And more to the point, I don't believe Compassion's goal here was to make me feel that way either.  
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Adam

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Teresa, not to try to speak for Kris, but I think he used the word callous because that’s how it made him feel to not respond, has nothing to do with you. Everyone is different. I have OCD and the 100 tentacle monster image would have stuck with me and haunted me for days. This letter was awful. This is the worst thing I’ve heard of yet. It was either intentionally designed to be that way or it was an enormous oversight.
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Kris Rasmussen

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Teresa - I didn't mean to say that you were callous. Sorry ! I apologize it read that way. I meant something lacking in me. I was going to say I was too tender~hearted but that did the same thing. I know you are a very caring person and have a heart for a lot of kids. I'll try again.

We are all very different and this letter gave me nightmares. 
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Teresa Dawn

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Thank-you Kris.  

And yes I agree we are all different, which is why I do not believe Compassion was intentional about it.  I believe they simply didn't know how people would react because THEY would not have reacted in that way. 

It is a VERY common technique with other organisations, I used to get that kind of thing almost monthly with a couple that I used to sponsor with, so they probably just said "Hey, this is what other places are doing and it's working, let's try it."  I really don't believe it was purposely meant to trigger people. That's all. 


For me the reaction is to be grateful I don't live like that and pray for those that do, and I guess because I've never experienced anything underhanded from Compassion staff myself after a LOT of dealing with them, I still believe that that was how they thought most people would react with the simple hope that those that COULD afford it, would give.  And I still believe that because they are sending it out to soooo many people they CAN'T predict how each individual will react.  

I'm not saying it was the best ad, clearly it triggered a lot of people so it probably shouldn't be done again, I'm just saying that Compassion has a real heart for these kids and that I don't believe they sent this out with any other hopes than to get a lot of kids sponsored.  I believe that these types of stories are sadly all too true and perhaps those on the staff that see it happening in real life feel and urgency that we don't and are trying to convey that urgency, yes, but I don't think they wanted people who CAN'T afford it to sponsor and I don't think they intended anyone to feel bad or guilty if they couldn't.  

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