Now it is sometimes difficult to say whether an apology is genuine but then you have to look at what the apology is for. However, as a fundraiser I don't personally think you should ever apologise for asking for money. Mainly because, the need for the support should be genuine, and in most cases is constant. That is why I was intrigued to see this land on my door mat.
Now when I first saw it, I must confess I thought it was an apology for some banking or admin error so I opened the envelope. However, it was essentially an ask for me to upgrade my support or rather a letter apologising for asking me to upgrade.
Please don't get me wrong, This is not a criticism of the teaser outer that actually got me to open the letter, neither is it a criticism for asking me to increase my support. My discomfort is actually with the tone of the letter itself because it was so apologetic that it detracted from the reason for asking for an increase and thus the letter was not more effective for it. In fact probably the opposite.
It was a very nice letter. It was warm, said thank you several times for my support and seemed to be genuinely appreciative of what I already do. But I am struggling to get over the apologising because I can't actually recall why they wanted more funding.
I have not ruled out increasing my support because I like Sightsavers and their work, but in my opinion there is a balance between acknowledging the current climate and its potential impact on your supporters i.e. 'I know these are difficult times and you are already doing so much, so thank you' versus a rather explicit apology for 1. possibly causing offence (should I be offended?) and 2. for asking for more to do more.
I appreciate this is a personal view point and would be interested in what you think. I also appreciate that I may not be their key audience and you can't please or appeal to everyone. But coming back to me with my fundraising hat on I just don't think there is any room for a sorry in an ask for support or even an additional ask for support.
If the case for support and/or the imperative to support is clear, focused and relevant then it should not be necessary. After all an apology would not be a reason for me to give, it would be the the WHY and the WHAT FOR that would.
As for the letter - if they removed the lines about causing offence and the explicit I'm sorry - the letter would have been no less polite or understanding of the possible situation I may be in because of the economy or the additional asks from other causes. In fact it would have been fine - and I may have been able to recall why they needed more support. As it is, I can't. I am sorry to say.
So when thinking about copy and messaging for supporters - though it is a challenging time and good to acknowledge that fact, my recommendation would be to not go over board with the apologies and focus more on the case for support, the timing and the relevance for the people you are writing to because from my experience you could go an apology too far and it can hijack the overall message of your communication. Save the apologies for when you mess up.
Many thanks as ever for stopping by.