May 27, 2010
I recently had the privilege of helping to write curriculum for the May Mission Increase Foundation workshops on thanking and receipting. (To view upcoming workshops, go to www.MissionIncrease.org.)
As part of this process, I studied scripture, deciphered God’s leading, thought through concepts and ideas, and read various pieces of mail. One letter in particular grabbed my attention, although it wasn’t a receipt or a thank you piece; it was written to a colleague of mine explaining her experience after writing…
$48,000 in checks to three different ministries.
Although I was given permission to share this letter, I’ve adjusted a few minor details and names for the sake of anonymity.
“I wanted to share the story below with someone who would appreciate it and might be able to use it in helping others become better fundraisers.
This year I served as the executor on my great aunt’s estate, dollar for dollar the most generous person I’ve known. She made $1,000 a month in social security and pension and each month she gave away $1,000. In her estate she gave 25% to 3 charities and 25% to a sister-in-law. During her lifetime Judy gave mostly $25 checks with the biggest checks being around $500. I don’t know if she ever gave $500 to any of these three charities. I wrote each of the charities a check for $16,000 and included a letter saying Judy had died on April 25, 2009, and asked them to call me when they got the gift and to send a letter acknowledging the estate gift for my files. I have been shocked by the lack of response or no response.
I wrote a check for $16,000 to her small local church. The bookkeeper called me when the check arrived. He was not a good communicator on the phone with a tone that said he was doing his job, not appreciative of Judy’s gift. He asked if the year-end book statement would serve my purpose as a receipt letter. I asked him to send a letter that specified that it was an estate gift. He also said he could send another envelope for a small final distribution next year if we so desired. A week later I did receive a handwritten note from the pastor.
I wrote a check for $16,000 to a foreign missions organization. The bookkeeper called and left a message that the check had arrived. Since then I have received two letters from the director to Judy talking to her like she is still alive. He obviously didn’t see or read the letter.
I wrote a check for $16,000 to a large, national ministry. I received a computer generated receipt. That’s it.
I cannot believe these responses. Please keep up the good work of equipping fundraisers to be good stewards with money and appreciation.”
By the way, it doesn’t matter that these were $16,000 checks – they could have been $6 checks.
What leads a person to give? An openness to God’s will; God’s prompting; listening to His voice; desiring to make a difference; taking a step of faith. Let’s not forget that giving is spiritual. Even more. As individuals give they are taking a wonderful step on their spiritual journey.
So… how should that be acknowledged by non-profits? It seems to me that even a genuine “thank you” might not be the answer.
I’ll pick this up soon.
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