Friday, September 7, 2007

Annoying Fund-Raiser Form Letters...

I just got a letter in the mail from one of our denominations offices that began:
Dear Rev. Wesley Allen
I've got to say, when I get a letter in which the salutation has my title (which I don't use) and both my first and last names in conjunction with "Dear" I'm not struck with a whole lot of confidence. It's obviously a "kitchen sink" approach to a mail merge, which is bad enough, but then they compounded the error of adding an attempt at a personal tug in an obvious mail-merged form letter:
When I heard of [name's] story I thought of your congregation's generosity...
Oh really? You thought of [insert name here]'s congregation? That's astounding. I read that line and wanted to scream. We wonder why folks consider religious folk inauthentic, and why local churches look at denominational structures like they have less of a clue than they do (which is often difficult to do)? It's like we're not used to anyone actually hearing us so we feel free to pile on the exaggerations and out-right lies in an attempt to make people feel as though we, the [insert name here]'s of the world, get remembered.

I know a lot of people will say, "It's just a fund-raising letter, they all say that - it's just what they do." I know I'm supposed to say that. I know I'm supposed to say that it's just the way the "game" is played and swallow the lie without raising an eye-brow. The problem is, I just won't do that. See, if we're "playing the game" of fund-raising, I think there's a huge price to pay - and by the way our national offices are have almost no trust from our local churches I think we're paying it. If you want my money to do your mission, tell me what you do and what you need - don't spoil it with a faux-familiarity that we both know is a load of crap, OK? Please?

Now, Central Baptist does give to this particular offering - and the ministry that the form-letter gets to eventually is one that is close to the heart of both my wife and I - but I'm not going to give directly to the mission described in the letter because, frankly, they keep blowing smoke up my nose and it's getting annoying. Instead we give to the same work, elsewhere. Why? Because the ministries we give to for that work are a heck of a lot more above-board in their dealings with us. I wonder if our denominational offices are going to learn that lesson before they end up closing shop.

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