Old School



by: David Gee – Associate Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Many of us are in the thick of wrapping up our year-end appeals and all of us are ramping up for the start of the New Year. (Hopefully with a little time to reflect, restore and re-engage in between.) In the midst of all of that, we’re also starting to think about our professional New Year’s resolutions.

Technology has absolutely changed the ways in which we interact with our donors, volunteers and prospects. We are driving online donations, sending email acknowledgements and sharing our stories via e-news and through social media. In some cases, we are engaging donors, board members and others through text messages. All of these allow us to work faster, reach farther and, in many ways, do our work more cost effectively.

And this is all good… to a point.

Last night, my family enjoyed a “blast-from-the-past” encounter. My boys and a friend of my college-aged son were playing a board game in our living room. The “low-tech” encounter inspired me to play a few records on my grandmother’s Victrola.  They got a kick out of the nostalgia and my youngest even remarked that the records weigh like ten times more than his iPod. Now, they certainly wouldn’t trade the convenience of their Apple products for anything, but the conversation about music that was inspired by the old player and the 78 RPM records was pretty awesome.

Reflecting on all of this when I started writing this post, it dawned on me that sometimes… “Old School” is indeed pretty cool. So here’s my question — when was the last time you received a hand-written letter, card or note from someone when it wasn’t your birthday and/or they didn’t have an agenda?

My guess is that it has been quite a while for you and that the same is true for your donors.

So how about this… as 2015 winds to a close and 2016 kicks off, let’s all resolve to go old school from time to time.

I will be sending out handwritten thank you notes to some key folks over the next few weeks. I want them to know that they matter enough to me to make the time to do so. I want them to feel special because, well… because they are. Then I am going to keep my snazzy new TUL pens handy as I continue reaching out the old fashioned way all year long.

And, I invite you to do the same. Get your favorite pen out (maybe listen to some of your favorite “old” music) and make it a priority to hand write notes that make your donors feel special. Focus on it as a very real opportunity for engagement and don’t allow it to become a chore. We know our donors (and volunteers) are going to be getting a lot of auto-replies and emails from other organizations, so this is a chance to stand out from the crowd, rise above the clutter and show them they how important they are.


David Gee is a seasoned development professional with particular expertise in capital campaigns, major gifts and donor stewardship. David joined the HUB Philanthropic Solutions team after serving as The Chicago Bar Foundation’s Director of Development. Prior to that, he spent 18 years working as a professional actor in Chicago. Among his volunteer activities, David serves on the Donors Forum’s Resource Development Committee, the Development Committee for All Chicago and as the Local School Council Chair at Beaubien Elementary School.


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