Almost every day I receive an acknowledgment letter that misses the mark.
But the one I received recently really offers a lesson in what not to do.
It’s plainly generic, to begin with. Though my name and address appear on the letter, the salutation reads “Dear Friend”. I can’t think of any good reason for this. And the letter was dated three weeks after we sent our gift. That’s too long.
But the worst part was that this was a memorial gift, a tribute to a close friend’s mother who had just passed away. My friend’s family chose this charity to receive memorial gifts. The funeral home provided a form with space to include the name and address of the family member we would like to be notified of our gift. As the person who often handles the mail, I knew to fill the form out completely.
The second sentence of the letter reads:
“Because we did not have the information that would allow us to send notification of your kind gesture, we have enclosed a special tribute card so that you may do so.”
They did have the information. If they lost it, then they ought to have called or written me to ask for the information. I don’t want to be the one telling my friend about the gift. That feels too much like a bid for thanks. It’s uncomfortable.
The “special tribute card” is simply a generic, branded note card with information about the organization. The envelope didn’t even have a stamp on it!
I hope this isn’t their usual way of handling tribute gifts. Maybe it saves them the trouble of writing two letters – one to the donor, and one to the loved ones of the person being memorialized.
Whatever their reason, it really upset me. I made a gift to the organization, but was being asked to do half their work for them.
Worse was knowing that my friend’s family entrusted this organization as the recipient of memorial gifts. That trust deserves better treatment.
This is a huge, national organization. There’s no excuse for bad donor care like this.
For me, an organization that probably does very good work missed a chance to cement a relationship. They made my gift feel insignificant. A “Dear Friend” “gesture”.
Not sure I’ll feel good about making another gift to them any time soon.
Failing to find any development office contact on their website, I called the 800 number on the bottom of the letter. After waiting on hold for ten minutes, I spoke with a very nice call center person and passed along my comments. I also learned that according to their records, notification of the gift was sent to the family. (That’s good, but why tell me it wasn’t?)
I doubt I’ll hear anything more on this, but I’ll update this if I do.