Let me take you back to March 25th. If you’re like me, you probably already forgot that that was the day the Canadian government fell during a confidence vote on the budget. (I had to look it up – thanks again Wikipedia!).
Unlike most elections, I admit I was mostly disinterested. I am usually pretty fired up about the campaigns, the debates, the intense coverage in the Globe and Mail on Saturdays. In short I am a bit of an election geek. But this time around, I was kind of resigned to the inevitability of outcomes. I even went to bed before dawn on election night.
But despite my generally lacklustre reaction, I took a giant leap in engagement. On April 3, 2011 I made my first gift – ever – to a political party.
That morning, I had received an email call to action on a specific issue and I decided that after all these years of beaking off about politics, I should put some money where my mouth is and support someone in this campaign. It was not an insignificant gift for me. I wanted to have an impact and I gave one of the larger charitable gifts I will make this year, on par with the gifts I make monthly to organizations I have been loyal to for years.
So, I clicked the ‘donate now’ button in the email, went to the online form and plugged in my information. Then with flash of anxiety, I hit confirm and it was done. I felt kind of awesome. I was participating in our democratic system in a new way. And I finally committed to a party in a way that went beyond getting a lawn sign or voting. It felt like I had made an important step. It was like smiling to myself.
But science has yet to observe a small enough measure of time to describe how short that feeling lasted.
I received a receipt for my ‘credit card’ transaction’ immediately. But no official CRA electronic tax receipt. You know, the kind that every single Canadian charity has been able to issue since 1999. The kind of tax receipt that canadahelps.org can issue on your behalf so simply and easily. You know, the kind of thing I was expecting from a national political party who was soliciting donations through email and processing online would be able to give me. But nope. I was going to get a paper receipt. In the mail.
Holy forget! You must be kidding me!
“OK, OK”, I said to myself, “Calm down. Cut them some slack. Remember, you still think they have a lot of ideas that are pretty good. It is totally ridiculous that they haven’t figured out the basics of online giving, but their heart is probably in the right place. As soon as you get the tax receipt, email them, tell them the story and you can even offer to give them a hand.”
And I have been waiting for the tax receipt since.
This afternoon, I went to my mail box to retrieve the mail and, lo and behold, it had arrived. It took a long time, but as I was ripping open the envelope (confession: I’m a finger-ripper envelope opener) I thought about how everyone must have been exhausted after the election and how the volume of donations must be huge during an election campaigns and how it all just takes time and – holy forget! – there was no receipt in this envelope. I even did the cartoon splay-the-torn-envelope-wide-open-upside-down-shake-and-inspect-with-incredulous-eye move. (Also in slow motion.)
I turned my glowing beet red face back toward the letter. I read it. Three times. Then I emailed my colleague Jon Lloyd because we had been talking about this for several weeks (and he was indulging me while really just trying to get me to finally sit down and write a promised blog posting already).
This is the email:
From: David Kravinchuk
Sent: May 16, 2011 2:23 PM
To: Jon Lloyd
Guess what arrived in the mail today?!?
From: Jon Lloyd
Sent: Monday, May 16, 2011 2:25 PM
To: David Kravinchuk
Subject: RE: blog
You know, I’m actually surprised it didn’t come at the end of year tax time.
But there was more to it:
From: David Kravinchuk
Sent: Monday, May 16, 2011 2:53 PM
To: Jon Lloyd
Subject: RE: blog
Oh, you think I got my receipt!
If so, you would be wrong.
I got a PAC conversion letter.
I will be writing that blog posting very soon!
Oh, oh … the kicker is, as I went back to look at the original email confirming my gift, I saw something I missed. My tax receipt will not be mailed until next year.
I am seething. Now I know that after a few months the anger will recede and I will just be left with deep disappointment. And in that respect, this election was exactly the same as all that came before.
A perfect opportunity, I thought, to offer a couple of thoughts on donor expectations:
1. Online donors EXPECT an e-tax receipt. It hasn’t really been an option for a long time. You must receipt online gifts electronically. If you aren’t sure how to do this, there are people that can help. canadahelps.org is a great place to start. In a matter of minutes, you can set up online giving for your registered Canadian charity. They are awesome. Not jerks. Also you must give e-receipts to online donors.
2. Never send another ask before you acknowledge the previous gift.** Never. Ever. Ever. Nope, not even then. You really can’t do it. Or you are a jerk. Don’t be a jerk.
** You can send another ask WITH the receipt. Ask for another gift or ask your donor to make a monthly gift. No problem. Now, some very smart people don’t think this is a good idea. I can appreciate why they think that. There is a bit of a debate about whether an ask is appropriate to send along with a thank you. But there is no debate about being a jerk to a donor. Don’t be a jerk.