As part of my job, I advise nonprofit organizations on donor relations. The general message is that donors — because they're people — like to hear "thank you" and that, increasingly, donors like to feel they are integral to helping an organization to meet its mission, not just by giving money but as ambassadors for the organization or the cause. The latter is a notion that predates Barack Obama's presidential campaign, but is easily illustrated by the campaign's purposeful decision to frame their messages using the collective pronoun (we), suggesting all Americans had a role to play in changing the direction of our country.
"We are the ones we've been waiting for, we are the ones we seek."
BUT I REALLY WANT SOMEONE TO SAY THANK YOU.
(That was a set up. A long one.)
I'm feeling really guilty this morning. Over the weekend, having not heard from 826 — after making a (in my world) significant contribution to them — I sent the organization an email with some advice on donor relations and letting them know they had lost me because they had simply neglected to say thank you.
Yesterday, Lauren Hall, the organization's Development Director, sent me an email to apologize for not being in touch sooner.
"I would like to follow up soon, maybe you would consider talking with me on the phone? I feel awful about all of this. The truth, like I stated below, is that our individual donors are our livelihood, and in the past we have prided ourselves on our effusive donor appreciation. It's just that yours was delayed…Your donation was the talk of the WEEK, completely lifting our spirits and inspiring our work. We are so grateful for the exposure that you've afforded us with heartfelt mentions on your blog. All of this has been incredibly exciting and motivating, and I'm sorry it's taken us a minute to let you know all this!"
(Have I mentioned how much I suck? Did you notice she said it took "a minute" to get back to me?)
Then, last night, when I got home, there was a nice little package for me from 826, which it seems they mailed before I sent my email. A t-shirt, buttons, a couple of publications put out by the organization and a handwritten note signed — not just by one staff member, but four — including a suggestion that I come by and visit them if I am ever in San Francisco.
Hey, 826, consider this my apology for my impatience. You do a great job with donor relations. Now get back to work doing what you do and stop worrying about me and my whining. You've got me for life.
If you want to make a donation to 826 and promise not to give Lauren a hard time for not getting back to you immediately, then head this way.