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May 26, 2018

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A Week Of A Thousand Postscripts: My Struggles With A Best Practice

 

I lugged the box of form letters home to sign. "Wow, this box is heavy." That year we decided to increase the number of appeals to the fundraising event---at least a thousand more than the previous year. I had set aside a couple of long evenings to get the job done.

 

Because our Development team valued individualized rapport with each donor, we made it a practice to personalize mailed correspondence. More often than not, we also added handwritten postscripts. This was an especially important step when we sent form letters. It took just a few extra seconds to include several words of gratitude, appreciation and respect for the donor. Handwritten postscripts were one of our best practices.

 

Now unpacked and stacked in piles on the dining room table, the volume of this year's appeal was apparent. We REALLY were sending a lot more form letters! I began to calculate: signature + handwritten postscript x several thousand form letters = more than a couple of long evenings to complete.

 

Was there a way to expedite the process? My commitment to practice our best practice was momentarily challenged. To postscript or not to postscript? That was the question.

 

I answered by asking myself: Is this a best practice with a little "b & p" or a big "B & P"? In other words, will the world come to an end if I don't add the postscript this year? Certainly not, however---this best practice is an extension of the larger Best Practice of individualized rapport with each donor. This handwritten postscript says, "We really do value you as an individual donor."

 

If I had had some additional time to keep asking myself questions, I would have continued: Is there a way to scale this best practice proportionally to the increased volume, expanded activities and accelerated growth? If post-scripting is now a logistical challenge, is there a better best practice to replace it?

 

But the deadline to mail these form letters was looming. So I began writing.

 

P.S. Really appreciate your continued support. Thanks again, Joe

 

P.S. Hope you realize your impact on our mission. Bless you, Joe

 

P.S. You are terrific champions for our cause. Thank you, Joe

 

P.S. We couldn't do it without you. All the best, Joe

 

P.S. Can't begin to tell you how much your donation means to us! A million thanks, Joe

 

P.S. Grateful for your funding partnership through the years. Many thanks, Joe

 

P.S. Everyone here joins me in thanking you again and again for your generosity. Joe

 

It actually took an entire week of long evenings to write these right. Interestingly, we saw an exponential increase in the number of donations to that year's appeal. Some donors actually increased their gift amount. I can't confirm if these upticks were due, in part, to the handwritten postscripts.

 

And I wish I could tell you that we eventually resolved the struggle of scaling this best practice. What I can tell you is that soldiering on through the week of a thousand postscripts definitely strengthened my core belief in the larger Best Practice. With each one, I kept reminding myself: "This donor trusts our mission. This donor expects us to leverage their generosity for the greater good. We do not take this donor for granted. We can never thank this donor enough."

 

P.S. Struggling with scaling your best practice? Keep at it and keep the faith!

 

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