You Just Never Know
Saying he’s been burdened with guilt, a Montana man has mailed Washington wildlife officials $6,000 to compensate for deer he said he killed illegally — more than 40 years ago.
The man contacted a Washington Fish and Wildlife Department office a few weeks ago and confessed to an officer that he had killed three whitetail does illegally between 1967 and 1970, officials said Wednesday. They identified the man only by his first name, Roy.
Capt. Richard Mann in Yakima told Roy that penalties for poaching antlerless deer were around $250 in the late ’60s and range up to around $2,000 today. “But I told him the crimes are well past the statute of limitations and no charges could be filed,” Mann said. The officer suggested he could sign up with the agency for volunteer jobs at a wildlife area or habitat project to soothe his conscience, but Roy said he lived in Montana.
Last week, Mann got a message from the department’s Olympia headquarters that a $6,000 check had been delivered as a donation to the enforcement division.
“I was amazed,” Mann said. “It’s not uncommon for me to hear from people who are sorry for a wildlife infraction, but usually it’s because the judge stuck them with a big fine.”
“This doesn’t happen,” said Mike Cenci, the agency’s deputy chief of enforcement. “We do get donations, but if any were related to misdeeds or conscience, we’re not aware of it.”
Roy asked that the money be used for wildlife enforcement. In the letter with the check he wrote: “My conscience has not allowed me to put this sin to rest until now. I know that God has forgiven me and hope that WDFW will as well.”
Of course, Roy’s donation wasn’t the result of a long-standing acquisition effort by a nonprofit organization. Nor was it even a one-off that came in from a TV commercial or during an event. Obviously, it had nothing to do with a fundraising strategy at all. But it does have some implications for fundraisers.
The story of this donation underscores the power of guilt as a trigger for giving — especially so because it came from within the giver himself. But more importantly, I think, it underscores the importance of getting your message out there, and consistenly educating people and providing them the opporunity to give. You can — and should — build fabulous relationships with your donors. But somewhere out there, flying under your radar, is someone who has an aha moment and decides he or she wants to give — be it time, talent or treasure. And if your organization is out there as well, with flawless stewardship, consistent marketing and compelling PR, you might find yourself the recipient of that impromptu generosity. Keep that in mind, because the poster at Amergent was right when he or she prefaced this post by saying, “You NEVER know where a new donor could come from … ”