Fundraisers are used to dealing with people in the midst of a snit.

It was an intriguing concept. The front cover said, “Thank you for your legacy gift.” Below that banner was a long list of first and last names. The tiny print compelled you to dive into that sea of names to find any familiar ones. The cover design invited you to look for friends who had made a gift and to join the giving circle.

Mary took a look at the cover right when she pulled the magazine from the post office box. Standing there frozen in interest, she found several friends and to her horror spotted her own name. She called immediately to remind the director that she had requested anonymity around her legacy gift.

“I was mortified to see my name published on the cover of a national magazine,” she complained loudly. “That is not anonymity.”

It took the soft-spoken director several patient minutes to explain that thanking donors publicly was important. It helped people considering a gift to join their friends in the giving circle. Mary could agree with that, as she had privately encouraged a close friend to consider a legacy gift.

“But I said I wanted anonymity,” she said forcefully, verbally stamping her feet.

He mentioned that her name, Mary B., was quite a common name—although he said, “You are a rare jewel.”

Almost in a whisper he said that he never meant to offend her. Seven people sharing her name had also left a legacy to the organization. The single name on the cover recognized each of their gifts. Her gift, as per their agreement, had been honoured under Anonymous—not Mary B.

It’s unclear when she got off the phone if she stomped to the next room in her fur-lined slippers. But she mumbled her apology somewhat sheepishly and continued her support to the organization.

We at Tiny Frog Strategies wish all fundraisers a healthy portion of tact as they engage their most valuable resource—donors.

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