Dear Mr. Delucchi,
I am sorry that you are not grateful for my donation, big or small, therefore I might consider donating my money to another animal shelter who will be thankful for any dollar amount I donate.
This was part of a longer, hand-written letter I received this week. It wasn’t signed and didn’t include a return address, so I have no way of contacting the individual. What prompted it was a recent mailing from the SPCA. In that letter, signed by me, I thanked supporters for their generous giving. And, as many charities do, we asked people to consider increasing their already generous support. That was the line that got her. She explained how she takes from her grocery money to help the animals throughout the year. I could feel her hurt in the hand-written words.
If I could reach this supporter, this is what I would say:
Dear Animal Loving Friend:
I gave you the impression we were not grateful for your support and that kills me. I am sorry. We are touched more than you could imagine to learn just how much you care about our work and what you sacrifice to help the animals. Your contribution matters greatly to us and to the animals in our care! If the checks you write throughout the year help one animal, that means everything to us and to that one animal.
That animal could have been the injured hawk we received, caked in mud and unable to fly. All she needed was supportive care and a bath (hawks don’t like baths — we were careful), then we released her. Or, you could have helped the weeks-old Chihuahua puppy (pictured here) who is still the size of a guinea pig. His name is Tiny Tim, but we call him Nugget! Nugget arrived with an ulcerated eye requiring surgery for removal. Now he looks like he’s winking all the time, but that won’t keep him from being adopted. Or, your support could have helped one of the other nearly 1,000 dogs and cats we made well through our TLC program, then rehomed this year.
We are a good-sized organization and help many animals, but we always count successes one at a time. Your gift makes me think of a story, known by many of us in the animal welfare world. A man is walking along the beach when he encounters a boy tossing something into the ocean. He asks the boy what he’s doing and the boy explains he is throwing starfish back into the ocean. But, there are hundreds of starfish and miles of beach; you can’t make a difference for all of them, says the man. The boy gently tosses another into the surf, smiles at the man, and says, yes, but I made a difference for that one.
We have far more supporters with average or limited means to give than those with significant means. Supporters like you are the lifeblood of our organization. Our needs continue to grow. We are doing far more for the animals today and we are needed by this community’s animals more than ever. To be there for them, we rely on continued support and we are always hopeful that those who can will consider increasing their support. Many people have stretched to the edge of their means. We fully understand, we’re grateful and we don’t expect more.
If you need to move on from being a friend of the SPCA, we will understand and remain grateful that you are are still helping animals somewhere. But, as an organization that is all about second chances, we hope you give us one.
Thank you for considering and thanks again for making a difference.