Making Memories (and Donations) Count

I’ll get the sad part out of the way quickly. My mother died September 4th. She was a neat lady – I miss her a lot.

Anyway, my brother and I suggested in her obituary that in lieu of flowers, donations could be made to a charity of one’s choice. I’d seen that in umpteen obits before and it seemed like a fine idea.

Apparently my friend Ellen thought so, too. Ellen and I met in seventh grade, at Phillips Jr. High, in Mr. Butcher’s shop class (wood working – bird houses and such). We were inseparable from then on.

Here we are in high school – with my mom. (I’m the one with the hair – and problems with color coordination. Wanna guess which decade?)

Anyhoo… In late September, I received a letter from Blessings in a Backpack, a national charity based in Louisville, Kentucky, that sends backpacks full of food home with school kids who otherwise might go hungry over the weekend.

It was a short letter – three concise paragraphs that said:

      • Ellen and her husband, Don, had made a $50 donation in my mother’s memory.
      • What the program does, why it does it and the impact it has on kids’ behavior, test scores, reading levels, health and school attendance – all in three sentences.
      • Thanks to Ellen and Don for the donation – and to me, for caring enough to encourage charitable contributions.

Blessings in a Backpack Did you know Blessings in a Backpack provides food for about 60,000 school kids in about 440 schools in 42 different states? I didn’t. But now I do. And six of those schools are in my home state of North Carolina.

How cool is that?

So that got me thinking about memorial contributions to charity. After a brief conversation with CFO Kevin Beam and Accountant Beth Sedgwick, I learned they get 10 or so memorial donations a month, with the typical gift amount ranging from $10 to $100. (By the way, Kevin picked up the phone on the second ring, pulled in Beth to answer questions, no fuss, no muss. GREAT customer service!)

So when I look at this whole experience with my potential-donor’s hat on, and my consultant’s pen in hand, here’s what I see…

What Blessings Did Right

      • They sent me a letter acknowledging Ellen’s gift – promptly.
      • They kept it short and sweet. Easy to digest.
      • They had their message and impact statement boiled down to its very essence. That’s hard to do, but SO important. I now know EXACTLY what they do and the impact they have.
      • They didn’t ask me for money. My mom just died – they know it’s not the time. (That said, if they’re as smart as I think they are, I’ll get another letter from them later on.)
      • The opportunity to make a donation in someone’s memory is prominently displayed on the website’s donation page – that makes it easy for the donor.
      • Their fundraising software has a module that automates most of the process – that makes it easy for Blessings.
      • There’s a link to their Form 990 on their website. (Yeah, I know that’s not related to this post, but it made this potential donor happy to see a nod to transparency!)

What Blessings Did Wrong

      • I can’t think of anything…
      • But I feel like I need at least two bullets to warrant a bulleted list…

Kevin and Beth had an excellent piece of advice for donors before they let me off the phone: When making a memorial donation, always provide the mailing address for a family member if you’d like an acknowledgment sent.

Because if you don’t, you’ll miss the opportunity to brighten someone’s day – like Ellen did for me.

Any uplifting memorial donation stories to share? If so, I’d love to hear them!

About Ret Boney

Curious. Strategic. Organized. Dedicated. Champion of nonprofits. Wife. Mom to middle schoolers.
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3 Responses to Making Memories (and Donations) Count

  1. Richard Muller says:

    Great example of doing things right and for a good cause. Thanks for sharing!

  2. court says:

    Love this, ret. Thank you for sharing. And am so very sorry to hear about your mom. Not a day goes by that i don’t think about mine and miss her too. I look forward to reading more of your blog…… and i love the Blessings in a Backpack. Sweet El.

    Love to you,

  3. Pingback: Honing Your Decision-Making Skills | Moments of Clarity

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