At the RFC we’re always seeking new supporters. Over the years we’ve gained many contributors at house parties and speaking engagements, at the large public events we’ve staged and through personal contact. But for over two decades our biggest single source of new donors has come from direct mail outreach. We’d send letters describing the RFC project to those whose names were on the mailing lists of other progressive organizations, and add those who contributed to us to our list. We still do this, although not as often as we used to because of sharply increased postage costs and the growing dominance of electronic communication.
After all these years it sometimes surprises me that there are still people on other progressive groups’ lists who apparently are unaware of our work. We still get letters from those who express disbelief that a group like the RFC exists. Sometimes, as an added bonus, a new donor sends us a note that shares his or her story and in doing so provides us with further insight into why people identify with our project. A slightly edited (mostly to protect the author’s privacy) version of a note I received two days ago follows:
“Thank you for sending me this info. Sorry I’ve taken so long to donate, I’m just recovering from cancer and wasn’t sure how much money I’d have.
Many years ago I was a political prisoner, but was quite lucky and did only 6 months in prison. At that time I saw many children who came to visit. I was consoled not to have any children at that time. I was 22-years-old and was lucky enough to have an American Indian Movement attorney represent me.
[After getting out of prison] I became a teacher in Special Ed and have also been a counselor to forty children for the last 28 years, many whose parents are in prison…. Many of my clients are Native Americans.”
This letter resonated with me. I identify with the author because his experience behind bars, and evident understanding of how important prison visits can be for kids whose parents are incarcerated, moved him to do positive work to aid children in such circumstances. Perhaps, like me, he has found his constructive revenge.
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