Tag Archives: apology

Thank You For Helping A Listener


Image courtesy of Iain Farrell, Creative Commons license
Image courtesy of Iain Farrell, Creative Commons license

Nonprofit Radio listener Matt asked me what to do after a direct mail mistake. I blogged his question and our community stepped up in grand fashion to help him.


His office sent thousands of appeal letters misstating previous gift amounts. He wondered what to do and these generous pros stepped up to give smart advice:

Ruthellen Rubin
Kris Gibson
Richard Freedlund
Pamela Grow
Rick J. Blount


You’re proof that our community can come together quickly and generously to help someone in need. I’ve always felt the nonprofit community’s energy and commitment to the greater good–and each other.

Places like #fundchat and Joanne Fritz’s about.com column stand out as great examples.

So what was our advice for Matt?

Send a quick, sincere apology letter–signed by a senior person–stressing a commitment to accuracy and pledging to take steps to prevent a similar mistake.

I agree. Openness, transparency, honesty and contrition are most respected when you’ve made a mistake. They’re never easy but they’re always best.

Have you got a question for our community? I’ll blog it and ask it on Nonprofit Radio.

What’s on your mind?


Let’s Help A Nonprofit Radio Listener

Image by Daniel Go, Creative Commons license
Image by Daniel Go, Creative Commons license

Nonprofit Radio listener Matt emailed me, asking for advice on a sensitive direct mail fundraising problem at the Minnesota charity where he is a gift officer.

Let’s help him!

With a bit of editing for conciseness, here’s what Matt says:

“We have a direct mail that just got out the door and was delivered to 6,000 donors today.

“I just received a call from a confused donor who received this letter. She has given to our organization before, but at a smaller level, but her letter said she has given a gift of $1,500 in the past and asked her to give over $2,000 to this appeal (she actually gave $50).

“Obviously, somewhere our spreadsheet that was exported out of Raiser’s Edge was in error.

“I was wondering if you have any recommendations on how to follow this up? A second letter acknowledging the mistake? Ignore the mistake? Etc.”

Thoughtfully, he asks that other nonprofits take care in their appeal mailings. He wants others to learn from his office’s mishap.

Matt and his office need help fast. They’ve got to make a decision and execute quickly. What’s your advice?

I’ll get us started, but feel free to disagree with me. Good decisions come from open dialogue.

Matt, I suggest you send contrite emails and then letters to each person whose letter is wrong. Explicitly apologize. Assure them the organization tries very hard to achieve 100% accuracy in its work and you regret that this time you fell short. Your CEO should sign the letter.

Time is of the essence. What’s your advice for Matt?