Dear Class of 2001 Senior Gift Committee,
Thank you so much for your recent note, reminding me that I haven't yet made a donation to the Senior Gift fund. I wanted to take a moment to address several points from your letter.
First, please notice the use of pleasantries in the first line of my letter to you. We can't all be expected to know proper etiquette for letter writing, but if you contrast my opening with the way you address me, I think you'll notice a difference.
In your first line, you wrote: "Dear Classmate: We have received notice of your refusal to participate in the Class of 2001 Senior Gift."
Why such hostility? In everyday life, we get these "we have received notice" letters every once and a while, usually for things like being three months late with a credit card payment or failing to show up for jury duty. But when you are asking for money, sometimes it pays to start off with a warm salutation. I mean, does my "refusal to participate" in an entirely voluntary charity drive really deserve such a harsh tone?
Your first paragraph goes on to say that you respect my decision not to make a donation (thanks!) but wish to restate the merits of the senior gift. Okay, you're warming up. I'm willing to listen. You even make the gracious gesture of offering me "a second opportunity to make a pledge of $10.00 before Commencement." It's nice that you're giving me another opportunity to take my money-I thought the window had closed. Phew!
Had you stopped there, I might have been inclined to read further. But the last sentence of the first paragraph really nips that urge in the bud. "Please read through this letter at least once," your letter commands me-in bold. Perhaps you should have added "you stubborn ox" to the end of that sentence, just to make your intentions perfectly clear.
Now, I know that you Senior Gift people have a tough (and indeed frustrating) job convincing people like me to give you money. These tactics probably seemed like a good way to get your message across yet another time. But must you really resort to this level of condescension? Do you think that rude language and silly commands actually make it more likely that I'll keep reading, much less give you my money?