Last week our family enjoyed celebrating my wife’s birthday. She received gifts, cards, Facebook greetings, and good food over the course of a few days of celebration. She even received a handful of text and email messages. In today’s world it is simple enough for a friend or colleague to drop a quick text or email to say “Happy Birthday.”
Except, these texts and emails were not from friends or colleagues in the ways we typically see them. They were from for-profit companies with whom my wife had transacted business in the past. You know those organizations that claim to be about building relationships – but really only care about our money? She received an email from Disney, another from the Children’s Place, yet another from Ruby Tuesday’s Restaurant. Kellog’s sent an email as did CVS. And she received a text message from our neighborhood dentist. Now, of course, these emails and texts are auto-generated. But these organizations took the time to see that a system was put into place to aut0-generate them.
During the same period last week, like many Americans we were putting the finishing touches on our taxes. In readying our charitable gift receipts, I realized that not one of the organizations we supported with a gift had sent my wife a Happy Birthday email or text message. Now, please understand. My wife wasn’t sad that she didn’t receive a text from each charitable organization. However, her consulting husband was reminded that our sector – our relationship-building, “we care about people” sector – still has a long way to go to show donors that they (and not just their money) are important.
Sending a text or email doesn’t, of course, build a relationship. In fact it’s only on small, simple act. But it is one small and simple act that says much more than Happy Birthday. It says, “We notice you. We pay attention to the details. And you are worth the details.”
It is one thing to talk about building relationships. It is quite another to do the work necessary to build them.