Let me tell you a little
secret: I collect out-of-office email messages. In fact, I have special folders
in my inbox for them: the good, the bad and the downright ugly. And, do you
know what? A full 95% of out-of-office messages fall into the downright ugly
Typos and all
Scene 1: it's 4 pm on
Christmas Eve and you're finally wrapping up your work at the office. You start
to put your coat on and then you remember that you forgot to put your
out-of-office message on your computer. So, with one sleeve on and one sleeve
off, your head already halfway into that night's family gathering, you type
something like this:
for your message. I'm on vaction until January 5th. Please contact
Larry in my abscence.
Scene 2: That donor you've been
cultivating for the last ten months is ready to transfer $25,000 in securities
to your charity. It's December 28th and he's just sent you an email
asking how to make sure it happens before year-end. But wait... what? Larry? Who's
Larry? What's his phone number? And, hold on... is that a typo... or two? Oh,
forget it, too much trouble.
Here are a few more real life examples
(names have been changed to protect the innocent).
will be away till jan 13th if there is an need please contact Jane Doe.
I am sorry to have missed
you. I am at an offsite and then traveling to Ottawa for the National
Conbfernce. I will return on Tuesday, August 7 following our Canadian long
weekend. I will have access to e mail and however will be delayed in my
response. If this is urgent feel free to call xxx-xxx-xxxx and am certain Jane
will be able to help.
I don't know where to start with that
one. First of all, what the heck is an offsite? I've never been able to figure
that out. Second, Conbfernce? Seriously?
am away from the college on PD from June 5-8.
Gah! I need a glossary and acronym
decoder for out-of-office messages!
And that's just a small sample. Spelling
and grammatical errors are rampant. I'm constantly told to contact so-and-so
without any idea what their contact information is. and if one more person says,
"If your matter is urgent, please..." I'm going to gag. Guess what, the $25,000
donation of securities I was going to make isn't all that urgent to me... I'll
just try another charity.
it - just in time for the holidays
Come on folks, we can do better. We are
fundraisers, hear us roar! We're all about building relationships, encouraging
compassion and caring in our cause. Let's
shake it up. At the very least, with the holidays coming up and, more
important, the year-end tax deadline just weeks away, can we at least include
information on how to make a year-end donation in our out-of-office message,
or, even better, have a real person monitoring our email while we're away so
they can immediately get back to people? And put that information in your
Now I know what some of you are going to
say: "But our organization has a really strict format for out-of-office messages."
Pffft! I think you can make the argument that you're missing some revenue
just good, but great
Ready for some examples of great
out-of-office messages? Here we go.
Hi and thanks for emailing me.Please read; this is not
the normal out of office you get from people.
I am travelling a lot over the next few weeks, a bit
of work in America and then Europe, followed by a holiday. I will be back 22
August, just in time for the Australasian Fundraising Forum, which will be held
in Sydney 30 and 31 August. If you are an Australian or New Zealand fundraiser
then I hope to see you there.
http://www.fpmagazine.com.au/client_images/1066453.pdf [The message goes on to describe the program]
Thanks for reading this far. If you are a client,
thanks for everything. If not, but you are a charity person, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org about how we may be able to help you.
If you still need me, SMS me and I will get back to
you as soon as I can. +xx xxx xxxxxx
I love it! I
feel like I'm getting to know you a bit better, and that conference sounds
awesome. I'm also going to give Jane a call because you sound like a fun group
of people to work with.
Thank you for contacting the Humber
Fundraising Management Program.
Ken Wyman is on sabbatical until
NEED STUDENT HELP? For information
about class projects and summer 2013 Internships contact Prof. Hill.
PART-TIME courses contact Prof.
This is so helpful. I know exactly what to do next.
And from the
lovely Jen Love, a wonderful out-of-office message from the day after Maurice
Sendak passed away. (The subject line was "Where the wild things are"... I love
I'm trading a wolf suit for a bathing suit, and I'll be with Mason and not Max,
I will, like the brilliant Maurice Sendak wrote in "Where The Wild Things Are"
be "making mischief of one kind or another" on a short vacation with my kids.
your matter is urgent, you can connect with Agent John at john@... or Agent
Holly at holly@.... I will respond to your email when I return on Friday, May
Over and out, indeed! Let's turn this thing on its head!
Leah Eustace is principal and managing partner with Good Works. A "fundraiser's fundraiser"
with a wide background in charitable fund development, she's worked with
clients including the Canadian Red Cross, the Canadian Breast Cancer
Foundation, CARE Canada and the UN Refugee Agency Canada on social media,
direct marketing, donor research and legacy marketing.
She's president of the Ottawa Chapter of AFP and a member of AHP,
NTEN, the CMA and CAGP.
Contact her at email@example.com.