THON Donation Confusion Cleared Up, Remedied



‘Tis the season to give to those in need. That’s why thousands of Penn State students are in the process of sending out THONvelopes: personalized letters to family and friends to solicit donations for the Penn State Dance Marathon.

Recently, however, households that have donated to THON in the past received a generic solicitation letter from the University on behalf of the philanthropy. Unfortunately, the timing of this mailing has greatly conflicted with the timing of the student sent THONvelope letters, causing confusion and concern amongst the THON community.

THONvelope letters are personalized by the sender depending on their involvement in THON. Volunteers send letters discussing their involvement with a certain committee, their favorite THON memories, information about their organization, and even stories of Four Diamonds families they have met. The customization of these letters, and the fact that they are sent by someone they know, helps the reader personally connect to the cause.

I have been involved in THON since my sophomore year. Throughout these years, I have written my own THONvelope letters and spent a lot of time collecting addresses of people to send them to and thanking my donors afterwards.

On Thanksgiving, I was elated to spend time taking about THON with one of my aunts. I thought it was great that she was so interested but a little peculiar that the subject was so fresh on her mind. Later that night, I spoke with my grandmother on the phone and she mentioned getting a letter from THON in the mail.

I have yet to send my own THONvelopes (I promise I’m in the process!), so I told my grandmother that she’ll be receiving a letter from me soon with an envelope included to mail back. She countered that by saying the letter she received also had a return envelope, and she said she was ready to mail it back the next day.

Concerned, I asked that she include my organization name on the memo line of her check, and thanked her for the donation. I then emailed THON 2011 Overall Chairperson Kirsten Kelly with the following concerns in regards to how the addresses of previous donors were being utilized:

  • I will be double contacting the donors on my list of contacts with my own THONvelope letter, annoying them in the process.
  • I will not know who donated; therefore, I will not be able to send thank you cards.
  • Their donation may not get credited to my organization.

Kirsten Kelly responded saying a number of other volunteers had voiced similar concerns and followed up by sending an email to the THON Chair list serve last night detailing the steps THON has taken to remedy the issue.

“To overcome these issues, the Donor and Alumni Relations and Finance Committees will handle all donations we receive from the Friends Mailings in the following manner:

  1. THON will cross reference any uncredited check received through the Friends Mailing with a list of THON 2010 donors.
  2. If that donor did in fact donate to THON in 2010 and credited an Organization, that Organization will receive credit to their THON 2011 total in the amount of the check received through the Friends Mailing.
  3. All THON Chairs will receive updates from their DAR liaison to inform them of the donations credited to their Organization through the Friends Mailing and to allow for thank you notes to be sent to the donor.
  4. The checks from the Friends Mailing that are credited to Organizations will be recorded on THINK; however, please note we are unable to distinguish these from any other check donation on THINK.”

I think the solution the Overall Committee has provided will help alleviate any stress caused originally by the mistake. I commend and thank the members of this committee for their professionalism and quick response to the situation. What could have turned into another communication discrepancy seems to have been resolved in the best way for all of those involved.

The important thing now is for THON volunteers to still send their own THONvelope letters to people they would have contacted anyways and for THON Chairs to pay attention to this additional form of tracking donations. No matter what, every penny goes towards helping the kids, so continue to fundraise for the cure!

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About the Author

Caity Rogowski

I'm quite odd, a little creepy, and pretty awkward, but we'd probably get along. In real life I'm a THON 2011 Supply Logistics Captain, a Homecoming 2010 Public Relations Captain, a member of Zeta Tau Alpha, a dancer in ETCH Dance Co. and I tweet a lot.


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