Ken Burnett contributed recently to a Third Sector article about donors being thanked, in response to a blogger who felt they shouldn’t – we know what side Ken would be on and rightly so. He sets the case out better than anyone.
It made me think about a recent experience I had with a donation I made on the spur of the moment and in response to a story that moved me. In 2008 an aid worker called Gayle Williams was murdered in Afghanistan. At the time I was struck that there was this kind woman doing her very best for people, whose kindness was then repaid by a small unrepresentative group who took her life. Having worked for UNICEF, I knew the sacrifice of workers in the field and decided to send a gift to the charity Serve Afghanistan, for whom she worked.
I found the website. No contact details, no donor friendly info, no form, no enquiry box, no donate now button, no names. Nothing. I was disappointed but nevertheless, thought they must be a small charity and I put these concerns to one side. I found the bank details and e-mail address (no human name) and duly made a gift. Nothing back. No e-mail. No letter. No phone call. Nothing.
I then sent another e-mail and asked them to confirm my gift and in that e-mail gave them some friendly advice as a fundraiser to help them understand that the experience I had, was not good. Nothing. I sent another e-mail. Nothing. I gave up and put it down to experience.
Two years on and the thank you debate surfaces again. And I revisit my experience. I resent my gift. I have no confidence it has done any good. I have no faith that anyone cared about it. I feel – cheated, disrespected, ignored. I don’t want flowers. I don’t want fawning. I do want some respect, some acknowledgement, some confidence. In short I wanted a thank you.
I am sure Serve Afghanistan does good work. But, I was not treated well – and I am telling you this. That’s why donors, wherever they are, who ever they are deserve the respect that a simple, polite, appropriate thank you gives. It’s not about size, resources or ability. It’s about attitude, respect, appreciation, humanity, decency.
Thank you. Simple isn’t it. Thank you.