Internal Efficiencies & Tragic Fundraising Communication.

I love fundraising samples from organizations, good and bad. For years I kept every solicitation in an overflowing folder, until finally paying someone to scan them for use in an Annual Fund course I taught at Indiana University. The poor kids had to sit through me picking apart at least 100 of them that semester, including some whoppers from the Romney campaign in 2012. They targeted me as a likely GOP voter because I buy suits online, or something.

I don’t keep many fundraising letter or gift acknowledgements anymore  but, fundraising peeps, please know that I read every word when you send me something. Colleagues send me wonderful and wacky samples. Case Study #1 is a horror show from a well supported higher education performing arts organization. Names have been omitted to protect the guilty. Everything else is presented as written for your enjoyment:


  1. The Premise: We appreciate your support. Why else would we write? Did we thank you as a Donor four to five times over the course of the year?
  2. The Real Premise: Wait, what? Someone has decided that the written acknowledgment letter represents an unmanageable burden. What? Thank you letters mailed in the mail are too demanding of a full time and adequately staffed development program? Did you just proclaim “internal efficiencies” to the donor as a rationale for shoddy gratitude? Internal efficiencies?
  3. The Offer: Wait, there isn’t one. Want to still receive written acknowledgements for your taxes or personal enjoyment? Too bad. Confirm your email. Even if is is still the AOL one. Even if you don’t want to get email from our organization. This email will serve as your receipt for tax purposes. You are lucky to receive it, you ingrate donor. Never mind the opportunity to educate, inspire and engage via a generous thank you. Nope. A receipt is what you get. Like at CVS. Wait, except they give coupons with receipts. To reward loyalty.
  4. The Staff Pain: Seriously, you donor guys. Written acknowledgement letters are HARD. If only the staff got paid to conduct this misery. The least you can do as a donor is confirm your email. Just do it. Ingrate.
  5. The Donor Drama: Seriously you fundraising dummies. Are you kidding with this from a donor perspective? From your grandmother you learned to send thank you notes. This is a disaster. Someone should be fired.
  6. The Chief Advancement Officer: This is the giveaway. This “new system” could only have been schemed by a Disrupting Administrator. As titles move away from “Fundraising” or “Development” I see more and more of this sort of nonsense. My guess is that the staff teams spends so much time pondering Philanthropy that they cannot be bothered to fundraise.
  7. The Takeaway: If I am a donor to this place, the answer is easy. Clearly my support is burdensome and rife with internal inefficiency. So I will direct my giving elsewhere. No worries. Take a long lunch. Think about how Pokemon Go can work into your next donor event. Go fly a kite.

Send proper thank you letters. Don’t be a Chief Advancement Officer.

About jeremymhatch

If I could, I'd write about nothing but tacos. Alas, I am fundraising and leadership consultant in the arts, focusing on contributed revenue growth for organizations. Send me a compliment or complaint. And the location for the good tacos in your town.
This entry was posted in Annual Fund, Fundraising, Leadership, Performing Arts and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Internal Efficiencies & Tragic Fundraising Communication.

  1. Pingback: Fundraising Friday | July 29, 2016 | Pamela Grow

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  4. Pingback: Knock it Out of the Park | Ann Green's Nonprofit Blog

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