I came home tired the other evening. It had been a long day and I went to retrieve my messages. What greeted me was an automated message from a charity I used to support. The call puzzled me at first, then it annoyed me and finally it actually made me angry. It went something like this:
“Hello Mrs. Danosky, this is Arthur from (name of charity). I’m calling to say thank you for your support in the past year. It has meant a great deal to us and allowed us to accomplish many things on behalf of the people we serve. We just wanted you to know how very much we appreciate you and wish you and your family well.”
- First, I didn’t support this organization last year.
- Second, he doesn’t know if I have a family
- And third … for goodness sake it was automated – how appreciative is that?
The irony is that a few days earlier I had done a workshop on Major Giving. And we talked about appreciating people who give to your cause. And calling to say “thank you” is important. But you need to mean it.
While we live in an age where mass marketing is still a bona-fide way of doing business, we also have the ability to direct our messages in ways that are personal and meaningful. When you make a charitable contribution, you expect to receive a written acknowledgement. If you make a significant gift – it is nice to receive a more personal acknowledgement. And if you receive a personal phone call to thank you … well – that is just lovely and makes you feel special, indeed. We all want to feel special – but only if there is something special being acknowledged. An automated phone call to 1,000 donors doesn’t say “special”.
As I was sharing this story with a friend, she told me how she received a nice e-mail from her son’s high school guidance counselor. In it he recommended the classes he thought her son should take next year. She was pleased and impressed by this attention – until she saw that one of the classes being recommended was a class he was currently taking.
Notes that appear to be personalized, but really are not (often discovered because of inaccurate information) actually do more harm than good. I applaud the effort to go above and beyond. But only if you mean it. Otherwise, – you lose me at “Hello”.