After the Acquisition
You work for an animal welfare group, and members write in with questions about stray cats, neglected neighborhood dogs and so forth. You know your stuff, so you also know it’s taboo to use phrases like “dogs that …” or “cats that … .” Instead, you — and anyone who communicates with members — need to use the phrases “dogs who …” or “cats who … .” (To the uninitiated: Pet lovers think of their beloved dogs and cats as “people,” too — and they’ll take it personally if you slip up.)
A style guide, even if it’s just a single page, can save staff from using any off-putting phrases.
Tip No. 4: Manners count
Another national charity sent me a “Your gift is on its way” note, about two weeks after my thank-you letter arrived. The note read:
“This thank-you gift will be sent to you without obligation, but I hope that it will move you to send a generous contribution along with your Address Verification Form.”
Two problems here. First, I didn’t ask for a gift and there was no mention of a gift in the initial appeal. Worse, I still hadn’t received it at the time of this writing — weeks later — so I can’t tell you what the gift is.
I have no idea how effective this strategy is for the organization, although I will say the “gift/gimme” tactic raised my etiquette hackles. But that’s just me.
At the very least, common sense dictates that if you say you’ll do something, then do it. The surprise is over: Now I’m waiting for that gift. Don’t let it take another six to eight weeks to arrive.
Problem No. 2? That impersonal-sounding address verification form. I can’t fill it out unless the gift arrives. And the form sounds so official, so mass-produced, as if it came from the Internal Revenue Service.