Posts tagged ‘Rosenbach Museum’

August 26, 2016

Do You Know How to Take Criticism?

I received an extraordinary message recently.

With the permission of the author, I’m going to share her message with you. It’s a superb example of how to respond to criticism and turn it into an opportunity for positive engagement. It also raises an interesting issue that I want you to share your thoughts about.

Books by Aimee Rivers via FlickrEarlier this summer, my wife received an email appeal from Philadelphia’s Rosenbach Museum and Library. That email inspired me to write a blog post about fundraising by email (“Stop Making Stupid Email and Direct Mail Mistakes”). The post was admittedly harsh though constructive with eight useful tips for the Rosenbach and you.

While I alerted the Rosenbach to the post, I never heard back from staff, not that I had requested or expected a reply. That is until a few weeks ago when I received the following message from Sara Davis, the new Marketing Manager at the Rosenbach:

Dear Mr. Rosen:

I recently joined the Rosenbach staff as the manager of marketing, and I stumbled across this post while getting caught up on social media mentions from the summer. Criticism can be hard to hear, and I admit that I would prefer to have found it in my inbox rather than see the organization named in a public post, but your advice is constructive and I agree with many of your points. I will certainly pass these suggestions along to my colleagues; our future campaigns will no doubt benefit from your expertise. My thanks.”

Wow! I was impressed with Davis’ message. I thank her for allowing me to share it with you. Davis struck the right tone and managed to pack a lot into a brief communication. Here are some of the reasons her message works:

Respectful. Davis referred to me as Mr. Rosen, knowing and respecting my feelings on the subject of salutations, which I had addressed in my post. Davis and I did not know each other, so an informal form of address would have been presumptuous.

Introduction. Davis introduced herself to me, told me her title, and mentioned that she is new to the Rosenbach, hence the delay in contacting me. This established a personal connection while putting her message into context.

Honesty. Davis shared her honest feelings about seeing my post. But, she did so in a professional way, without whining, complaining, or being defensive. She did not take my criticism personally. She did not take offense or, at least, she did not show that she was offended.

Value. Davis acknowledged that my post offered constructive criticism. She went on to show that she valued the tips I provided in my post. She also mentioned that she would share my advice with her colleagues. By valuing my advice, she showed she values me.

Thank you. Davis then concluded her message by thanking me! How often do you thank people for having criticized you or your organization? I know that I don’t do it very often. However, by thanking me, Davis reveals an understanding that constructive feedback is an opportunity for us to improve. She also understands that when someone takes the time to passionately and constructively offer criticism, it’s probably because they care.

Engagement. By writing to me, Davis engaged me and opened the door for me to contact her directly. And that’s exactly what I did.

Because of my interaction with Davis, the positive feelings I once had for the Rosenbach were rekindled.

When choosing whether to respond to criticism and, if responding, how to respond, we would be well served by following Davis’ excellent example. Every interaction is an opportunity for cultivation.

Now, here is where you come in.

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June 15, 2012

The Nonprofit Sector Has Lost a Good Friend

The nonprofit sector lost an ardent supporter, and my wife and I lost a very close friend on June 6, 2012.

Lisa Halterman (1954-2012)

Lisa Maxine Reisman Halterman touched countless lives. We are all better off for the time she was with us, which was far too brief. Even if you never knew Lisa, she has improved your world in immeasurable ways. Think of a pebble tossed into a still pond causing ripples to expand outward. The impact of Lisa’s philanthropy rippled outward as well.

Lisa was involved with and supported a variety of organizations including the Please Touch Museum, the Rittenhouse Square Flower Market, the Curtis Institute of Music, the Rosenbach Museum, the Philadelphia Film Festival, the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, and the Philadelphia Area Repertory Theatre. She even hosted a special reception to benefit the Association of Fundraising Professionals Political Action Committee.

Though very different from each other, these organizations all enhance the quality of the lives of those they serve and, as a result, enable or inspire those individuals to improve the lives of others. The ripple effect.

Lisa’s philanthropy was generous. Parenthetically, and sadly, not a single nonprofit organization seriously approached her for a planned gift.

Only 22 percent of Americans over the age of 30 say they have been asked to consider a planned gift, according to a report from The Stelter Company. So, I’m not exactly surprised that Lisa was never asked. I just wonder how many other lost opportunities there are every single day? How many people are in your database that should be asked for a planned gift that you just haven’t gotten around to asking?

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