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Dear Sirs, homework please

Dear Sirs, homework please
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Dear Sirs, homework please1

Fundraising | Celina Ribeiro | 27 Oct 2008

There are many reasons why we here at PF should not receive a letter adressed ‘Dear Sirs’. Many reasons. But, chief among them is the fact that myself, my editor Lucy Harvey and our group editor Tania Mason are, in fact, women. There is not a 'Sir' among us.

Last week I found on my desk an A4 package containing a rather nice-looking annual report and a single page letter addressing me as a man. Clearly, I thought, this package is not for me and the charity in question has no interest whatsoever in me reading it.

Although it could appear otherwise, this rant is not me throwing a last-minute grenade into the long-dead political correctness wars, but rather just frustration at what is a needless alienation of at least half of an organisation’s potential supporter base.

Not only is the form of address 'Dear Sirs' extremely old-fashioned and quickly identifies an organisation as out of touch with the developments of the last 50 years, but it indicates that very little effort has been put into the mailing at all.

With direct mail such as this, it is little wonder that direct mail is seeing decreasing response rates across the board. Here at PF we hear often of successful and innovative direct mail campaigns and so it is disappointing to see that there are still organisations out there operating so far behind the times.

I must admit, however, that while I didn’t read anything much beyond 'Dear Sirs', the mailing -  technically - was effective. Good direct mail should evoke emotion, outrage even. It’s just that, in a perfect world, those feelings should not be aimed at the charity trying to solicit your support.

Roy Norris
30 Oct 2008

'Dear Sir or Madam' is another clue to an organisation that doesn't much care either.

My wife - or it may have been addressed to me - had a letter from Jaguar cars addressed to Norris Pauling - the other mistake was in thinking we would even be interested if they had got the basics right! These organisations don't alienate half the population - they alienate all of it!

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Celina Ribeiro

Celina Ribeiro is the editor of Fundraising magazine and daily contributor to CivilSociety.co.uk.

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