I picked up my mail the other day and opened an envelope from a well-respected advocacy organization. It was an acknowledgement of my recent gift.
Mentally, I went through a list of failures in one letter:
My husband’s name was spelled incorrectly.
This wasn’t our first gift by any means. I’m guessing we grabbed a response form from an acquisition mailing, for which they used a purchased list. But even a cursory look at the rest of the information should have alerted them that we were not acquisition prospects.
Though incorrect, they did have our names. Why didn’t they use them? Saying “supporter” defines us in relation to them, not as individuals. Nothing makes it more obvious that our value is strictly limited to our check. Bah.
The first sentence of the letter began: “On behalf of…”
Seriously? Points removed for the utter lack of effort.
The rest of the letter wasn’t about us and how great we were to donate. It was four painfully dull paragraphs of jargon. Insider language that probably bores even insiders. It said nothing, and my eyes skipped over it quickly, disregarding anything they were trying to say.
They did end with a pledge to get the most from every dollar we donated in order to have the impact we expected.
But what an opportunity lost!
They could have told me a story about someone helped, a law changed, a right safeguarded. They could have made me feel like a hero. It really wouldn’t have taken much.
Next time you’re tempted to write a mechanical acknowledgement, take a few minutes to think about what you would like to open in the mail. Make it genuine, personal… help your donor remember why she gave to you in the first place.
What about you? Do you have a favorite thank you? Or one that really missed the mark? Please share your story in the comments!