Tears sprung into Sadie’s giant brown eyes.
“Abie?! Who the heck is “Abie?! My name is S-A-D-I-E! Wait, was this Abie (quivering lip, fear-in-eyes, voice drops to a whisper) naughty?! WAIT! DOES THIS MEAN SANTA DOESN’T KNOW WHO SADIE IS?!?!?”
Total physical and emotional collapse.
Thanks a lot, Santa.
My little treasure wrote her own letter to Santa this year. She is 5. She still remembers the delight of receiving her letter from Santa last year (which you can read about in last year’s blog).
After we dried her tears and assured her that Santa would certainly know she was Sadie on Christmas Eve, and that certainly she was very, very nice, I realized that a number of things happened here that are good reminders for us as fundraisers.
Sadie’s penmanship is not perfect (but it is earnest beyond compare). She was devastated that her letter came to Abie. I’ve seen enough direct mail coupons in my day with shaky handwriting, and I know we don’t all take the time to decipher names, let alone personal notes or messages.
Can you calculate the impact on your program’s net revenue? Maybe not. Would it affect your ability to have a meaningful conversation about a legacy? Probably (it would certainly be an awkward start). Did Sadie’s heart fall into the pit of her guts when she got her letter? Absolutely.
Sadie had an expectation when she wrote to Santa. She was overjoyed last year, and it didn’t occur to her that this would be anything less than magical once again. Your donors might not be waiting with breathless anticipation for your appeal, but they do care about you and deserve to have their expectations not only met, but exceeded.
Now, the good stuff.
Sadie’s older brother Mason (who clearly has better penmanship) received his letter the same day. We were all delighted that their letters were different from start to finish. Very nice touch, Santa! Here’s how they both start:
Hello dear friend Mason,
I was delighted to read your letter this morning. I’m always happy to hear from boys and girls who love the magic of Christmas as much as I do.
Hello dear friend Abie, (wince)
Thanks so much for your lovely letter. Reading it at breakfast was a wonderful way to start my day.
Both these letter leads are brilliant. They connect the reader and the writer immediately. The tone is authentic. I can picture Santa and his belly like a bowl full of jelly at the breakfast table. And building a relationship around the magic of Christmas. Wonderful!
They are both hand signed – with a different personal touch (and a Ho Ho Ho!). The outer envelopes are hand addressed and have adorable festive fake stamps.
Fortunately, the magic of Christmas is more powerful than a typo (even one that makes a child cry and her mummy shudder) and, as with the best fundraising, the story and the feeling outshine and endure. Happy Holidays everyone!