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5 questions to ask your supporters

The problem with form letters

Processing donations and sending thank you letters can be a time consuming business and so most charities resolve this by producing form letters to make processing quicker and easier.

This reduces the admin time required and is more cost effective, but it does have a couple of dangers, which were highlighted to me recently.

My friend got married in September and kindly asked for donations to a local hospice rather than presents and I duly made a donation.

Four weeks after making the gift (which is a rant for another day!) I received a thank you letter with a personalised first paragraph, but then with two standard paragraphs following.

No bad thing you may think, but the problem was the paragraphs paid no attention to me personally.

As I lived over 200 miles away from the hospice, so the comments about my donation helping "real people from communities on your very own doorstep" and "caring for local people close to your home" were completely inappropriate.

You might thing I'm being pedantic and that no-one would expect anything more, but I have higher standards than that and think charities should strive to do better and tailor letters appropriately.

Use form letters if you must, but be willing to edit and change them if a donor gives you some extra information or detail that means you can personalise your response further.