Senior Lifestyles

More than a gesture: Celebrating the Giving Season

Nearly every able-bodied senior is a volunteer. So it is that many seniors – during the Giving Season just passed – have found themselves encouraging friends, neighbors, classmates, parishioners and just about anyone with a lapel to grab to provide financial support for their favorite charity. It is when such appeals are successful that the fun begins.

Because a gift in support of a good cause must be acknowledged, must be accepted with the volunteer’s suitable note of appreciation.

It is ever thus with large institutions – like universities and prominent churches – as well. But the college president or the senior pastor has a secret weapon; a gifted staff member often ghosts their gift-receipt letters. Nevertheless, the challenge of writing gracious letters of thanks is compounded when a donor is not only particularly generous, but also repeatedly so. After all, one goal of the delighted reply is to perpetuate this virtuous circle – and the next Giving Season is just a year away.

While working in a university development office, I once took exception to a letter signed by our president when the staffer who drafted it called an especially worthy gift “a gesture.” An accepted turn of phrase, to be sure, yet I felt it widely missed the mark. That was when I picked up my own pen. I did try to be understanding.

Thanks ... Again

The hapless souls who must

write thanks

To oft-repeating givers

Run dry of ways to say,

“How nice,

How kind” – gives one the


It’s certain, though, they must


Some words to soothe and salve

The donor addict’s bank


As in, “You shouldn’t have.”

To render thanks, then thanks


Our writers we sequester

Alas, ’tis thus a thankless task

Devoid of e’en a gesture.

Bob Simon is a Los Altos resident. Email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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