What the perfect thank you letter looks like is a regular topic in our office. Don’t be too gushy so you appear false. Don’t be too casual and risk not sounding grateful enough. Don’t drop too many tears over the paper so the ink runs.
Today I had to write a thank you letter to a lady who donated a large sum of money to us in memory of her son. I work for the East Anglia Air Ambulance and we flew out the day her husband handed their 11 month old baby a blackberry to nibble while on a family walk. Heartbreakingly, the poor child choked on the fruit and was unable to be saved.
How do you even begin to convey, on paper, to a family that have suffered such extreme loss, that you’re thankful for them thinking of you during it all? How do you convey to someone you’ve never met that the whole charity has been touched by what’s happened to you and has questioned often, how you must be coping? How do you say that you have no clue how they move on from this but you hope they have people around them who are helping? How do you get across that you really value writing you this letter, that you’re concerned about saying the ‘right’ thing, that you know they’re going to receive this just before Christmas when it must all feel like it can’t get any worse and you don’t want to make anything more terrible? How do you let them know that you won’t just write this and forget what has happened to them and that you won’t stop working hard in the new year in the hope that no one else will have to go through what they are?
Writing that thank you is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my role. I hope I did OK. I hope the family know how grateful I am for their donation. And how much my colleagues feel it too. And that I’ll be thinking of them on Christmas Day and hoping they see some glimmers of happiness in 2016.
For the record, I don’t believe there is a perfect thank you letter actually. But what I do believe, is that there is being truly thankful. This Christmas, I hope all fundraisers are taking a moment to be truly thankful for the support they recieve from the public, again and again and committing to remembering it a bit more often in 2016. We’re going to need to remember how much support we DO get, because the media is going to try and make it really hard for the public to keep believing in what we do. It’s down to us to show them differently. It’s down to us to remain thankful.