Late-breaking news from Halifax, Bill Pratt speaking Dec. 14, 2009, at 6:29 PM: "Warm Words received a Christmas card from a lady in small town Alberta." Almost a continent away, 2,700 miles. "On the inside were warm words and a $5 bill! People are wonderful. "
Bill Pratt, CFRE, is executive director of Saint Leonard's Society of Nova Scotia. St. Leonard's is an agency that runs homeless shelters as well as halfway houses for released offenders. The goal: to successfully reintegrate "people in transition" back into the community.
Bill raises money for that mission. But one day he sent his donors and prospects a different kind of email appeal. This time, he asked them for something other than a cash donation. This time, he wanted nothing more from them than words of encouragement, to pass along to the people served by St. Leonard's.
Your donors' cash funds operations, of course. But donor words of encouragement fund something else: the hearts and minds and souls of those who are struggling to change a life stuck in a very hard rut.
Here's Bill Pratt's email in full, verbatim:
Every winter, donations of coats, hats and mittens are given to help others keep warm. The men and women we help every day are very appreciative and thankful for the gifts. Make no mistake, the gift of a warm coat is special.
The men and women who stay in our shelters and half way houses come from a variety of backgrounds and circumstances. In most cases, their story includes a broken heart and faded dream. Our organization does not pass judgment. We offer a bed and positive environment for the men and women to re-group and make decisions about moving forward.
These men and women face very big obstacles every day and every day they face these obstacles head on and hope that today will be better than yesterday. This is where you come in.
I am writing to invite you to make a gift of Warm Words. Think about it; Warm Words. That's a gift of supportive words. Words that encourage. Words that say you are not alone. Words that show someone who is climbing enormous obstacles that it is worth the climb.
It is simple. Just send your Warm Words to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll make sure your words get to those who are staying with us. If you are inspired to send cards or pictures, that's okay too. You can send them to: Warm Words, 900 - 45 Alderney Drive, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, B2Y 2N6.
This does not cost you any money. Your only commitment is to take a moment to jot down some Warm Words. That's it. Think of the individuals who have no home, who are coming out of prison, or who are experiencing health problems that prevent them from working. This is an opportunity for you to extend a helping hand.
Thank you for taking time to consider this request. I'm hopeful you can find it in you to share some Warm Words this winter.
p.s. Feel free to share this email with anyone you like. The more Warm Words the better. Just imagine the impact your words could have on an individual.
Here are a few of the many words of encouragement Bill received in reply:
"A friend of mine was on her way to Christmas mass with her father. On their way in they noticed a man pan handling by the front entrance of the church. My friend could not understand why someone would pan handle by the entrance of the church so she did nothing more then walk by. Once church began, she noticed that the man who was panhandling was sitting close to her and her father. As collection was being passed around my friend seen the man put all of his money he had collected pan handling into the collection. She said she would never question a pan handler again. This happened to one of my friends in Newfoundland. I hope it warms your heart like it has mine."
"I know you don't know who I am but I want you to know I am loving you. The world is not against you, there is kindness and beauty around every corner."
"I hope that this note reaches you with a sincere belief that there are people in this world and more importantly, in your community, that care. I am a daughter, a sister, a mother, a wife, a colleague, an aunt, a granddaughter and a friend. I care deeply about the people closest to me in life; however I also care about the people of my community - people like you. Community is about people, people helping people and people believing in people."
"I wanted to take a moment to offer a reminder that the season isn't about an abundance of presents under a tree or even large feasts of food - it's not of measure of what we don't have, but rather a measure of we do have. I have seen dark days and sunshine days, I have met and spoken to thousands of people - the one constant is that everyone does have something good inside. Often we are tainted with illness, financial misfortune, broken hearts, troubling addictions or even just bad luck - but we have always our spirit and we always have someone that cares. If this season finds you 'without luck', please know that people do care - I care."
>>> Takeaway >>> You're not fundraising. You're friendraising. What can you do that will warm your donors' hearts? Are there other ways they can help the mission without giving money?
Tom Ahern is just plain great! I could go on and on but - all you have to do is go to his website and see for yourself - http://www.aherncomm.com
Bill told me his Warm Words story at the 2009 Toronto AFP Congress, Nov. 29-Dec. 1, 2009. Bill was my host when I spoke to the Halifax, Nova Scotia AFP chapter, earlier in 2009. Because my grandmother came from Nova Scotia, and her speech never lost its burr, I was inducted as an honorary Nova Scotian by the AFP members attending my salmon-riddled dinner. It is the highest honor I own.