A growing pre-occupation of mine is what appears to be an onrushing cultural collision between small dollar fundraising as it has evolved in the past three decades and the Gen-X/Y distaste for all things inauthentic.

Let’s start with the obvious — there are few things more fakey-fake than an old style direct mail package with address stickers, calendars and other “engagement devices” — as they are called.  Does that pass the laugh test with the up and coming cohorts of people now entering their 40s?

And what are the implications for online fundraising?

The emphasis on authenticity could be driving the dominance of “reality TV” (most of which is unwatchable by me), but also seems to underly much of what is being labelled Web 2.0.  Increasingly, folks would rather watch real people experimenting with Mentos and diet coke on YouTube than watch an over-packaged TV show or video.

Starbucks, which seems hell bent on destroying its own brand, has also run afoul of the new expectation of authenticity — hence the short unhappy life of their podcasts.

As my friend Alice Hendricks put it recently: “You can’t be remarkable if you’re not authentic.”

Much more on the issue of authenticity in marketing and fundraising in the coming weeks.