Friday, February 28, 2014

No thank you

Recently, some colleagues and I discussed how our offices process donations. We began the conversation because one of us had received a mailing from another nonprofit.  In small print, at the bottom of the solicitation, it said that donations under $25 would not receive a thank you note because the cost of stationary, postage and processing would exceed the donation amount.

While I'm all for being a good steward of donors' resources, I found this statement unsettling and fairly offensive. What if someone's $20 donation represented a healthy percentage of their income that week?  What if it was a true sacrifice?  CCSC has donors who fall into this category.

So do we only thank donors who write big checks?  From a Christian perspective, I can't imagine Jesus would endorse this practice.  Upon seeing a poor widow put two coins into the offering, he noted that she gave out of her poverty while others in the temple had given out of their abundance.  When I read that passage of scripture (Luke 21:1-4), I am reminded that true giving comes from a generous, humble heart. 

True giving should be acknowledged.  When people make a gift to a nonprofit, they should be thanked, no matter what the amount. The cost of sending a thank you note is worth the good will.    

I wonder if this nonprofit's practice is related to the overall decline in good manners in our society.  We're no longer great about responding to invitations (RSVPs) or sending thank you notes out in general - it's almost a lost art. 

One of my mentors has a practice of sending at least one handwritten note out weekly to someone in his professional world.  Sometimes the notes acknowledge good work, and sometimes they are just a note, letting the other person know that he is thinking about them. But the notes are always personal and heartfelt.

So let me close with a thought: I wonder what would happen if each of us adopted this practice and sent out one personal note a week.  I'll bet the impact would be significant.

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