We report a lot on The Agitator about the wonders of technology, the beauty of effective communications. Yet, despite today's technology — or maybe because of it — good manners and good fundraising seem to be on a marked decline. Gifts made over the web receive an instant thank you. As if any mere mortal were alive to thank someone at 3:00 a.m in the morning! Computer forms regurgitate myriad “thank yous” almost as heart-felt and believable as instant messages off the internet.

The art of saying “Thank you”, probably the most important part of great donor relationships, is truly endangered. By and large today's fundraisers view “acknowledgements” (the term alone speaks volumes) as either cost centers, scheduling and production problems, or just a 'pain.' Sad.

Helen Keller, the great American icon and leader of the movement for education of the blind, was also a great fundraiser.

Take a look at her thank you letter to Alexander Graham Bell, a major donor to the cause of education for the blind, and you'll see what I mean. Mr. Bell, as a way to celebrate the marriage of Anne Sullivan (The Miracle Worker and Helen Keller's teacher) made it possible for Ms. Keller to give her beloved teacher a fine wedding present. In gratitude Helen Keller thanked him, saying…

“Dear Mr. Bell,

I was perfectly delighted to get your letter, and I thank you ever so much for sharing with me the pleasure of giving Teacher a present. I should have written sooner, but the gift arrived only yesterday. I bought her a beautiful clock and candlebra that go with it, as I happened to know that was just what she wanted. I value a secret both for itself and for the exercise it gives my faculties to keep it, and I felt delightfully important and responsible when you put such a large secret into my hands! You know how hard it is to conceal anything from Teacher who is quite a clair-voyante, and I was quite proud when she told me that neither she nor Mr. Macy suspected our secret…

How beautiful the scene on the lawn must have been, and how fitting it was that her happiness should thus be blended with the glory of the blue sky and the fragrance of growing things! I was with you all is thought, and I leave it to your loving understanding to tell you the messages I cost out to her. Teacher's carriage will take place Tuesday instead of Wednesday. There is a boat which leaves Wednesday, and she and Mr. Macy want to take it for a fine trip.

My mother is here, and I shall go home with her after the wedding and speed part of the sooner with my other dear ones in the South.

With dear love to you and Mrs. Bell, I am,
Your affectionate friend,
Helen Keller”

Continue reading “Thank You Helen Keller”

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