Sta­tion WDCN, Nashville, USA: spe­cial thank you’ to a donor

Exhibited by
September 04, 2009
Medium of Communication
Direct mail, radio
Target Audience
Type of Charity
Public/society benefit
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance

SOFII’s view

‘Mystery testing’ of fundraisers’ replies to donors is usually a dispiriting activity, mainly because, if we acknowledge them at all, we averagely respond so slowly and inadequately to our donors’ generosity and support. But every so often an isolated fundraiser comes up with a spontaneous response that truly lifts the spirits. This is one. Read below the letter that prompted it, then just listen and enjoy.

Creator / originator

Diana Scheuerman, WDCN.

Summary / objectives

Simply to say ‘thank you’ to a valued donor in the most personal and appropriate way possible.


As a special assignment for America’s Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Ken Burnett set out to test a random selection of PBS stations in terms of how donor friendly or otherwise they were. Mrs Rebecca Brown was the persona he created for this mystery shopping test. The letter she wrote enclosing a small donation can be seen below. This exhibit features just one response to that test. The range of responses, mostly infinitely less donor-friendly than this, can be seen on the related page.

Special characteristics

This is an example of a fundraiser really listening to her donor, thinking on her feet and responding in an entirely appropriate and personal manner with a communication that any donor would be delighted to receive.

Influence / impact

Diana Scheuerman won a special PBS award for this initiative which Ken Burnett was able to present personally to her at the 1994 PBS annual convention in Anaheim, California.


Almost nil, just the cost of the tape, postage and a little time and care.


Great relationship fundraising, applied with sensitivity and style.

Other relevant information

Diana Scheuerman’s slight hesitation as she says her name in the first few seconds of this recording is purely because at the time, she wasn’t used to that name because she’d only just changed it that weekend, when she had been married.

Listen to Channel 17's response.

Visit the mystery shopping exhibit, here.

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In sending this intriguing, bulky package Channel 8 in Nashville came out rather better than the rest of the field in this mystery test.
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The letter that started it all, from the delightful Mrs Rebecca Brown – a bequest prospect, if ever there was one!
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Mystery test responses. A selection from the follow–up communications received by Mrs Brown.