Please spell the name right: #36 of 100 Things We’ve Learned

Last week I received a very lovely recognition from an organization for which I have been a very active member for just over 20 years.

I was named a Partner in Philanthropy during our state National Philanthropy Day celebration. I was invited to the luncheon, had my photo and bio in the program, received a lovely pin, and was invited on stage with the other Partners who were being recognized that day by nonprofits they had served.

As I arrived at the check-in table, I received a name tag, pretty recognition pin, my table assignment and a recognition certificate in a folder.

When I opened the folder to view the certificate, my heart sank.

My name was misspelled.

While I tried to resist it, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the gift I was being given had been selected for someone else. Like the time I opened a present anticipating something very romantic and found a rice cooker instead.

And this organization — I even served as its board president not that long ago.

I admit it. I’ve got a thing about my first name. I’ve never been particularly fond of it. The only thing that has redeemed my name for me is its  spelling. So when I see Gayle mistakenly spelled Gail, I feel particularly rebuked. I can’t help it.

I also use my middle initial L. Routinely. And given the organization that was honoring me, an extra special touch would have been to include the ACFRE credential after my name.

But I’ll shake it off. (I did bring it to the organization’s attention that day. They promised to send me a new certificate. I’ll let you know when it arrives.)

Unfortunately, mine was not the only misspelled name that day. My co-honoree for the organization, who was also a table sponsor, saw her name misspelled as it was projected on the screen with other sponsors. And a dear departed colleague would be rolling his eyes to have seen his name misspelled on screen for the scholarship award given in his memory.

Accidents do happen. I’ve made them myself (it’s a plague to locate all the typos in these columns).

As a fledgling development director, I misspelled the last name of a board member in my first annual report (which had been proofed by others). The misspelling was also a pet peeve of this board member. Like me, he frequently saw his name misspelled. It was tiresome and maddening to him to have to re-educate each new staff member who might have occasion to spell his name.

I’ve worked hard to get names spelled correctly ever since.

So please take the extra time to spell it right. It really does matter to your supporters. We’re not always so forgiving.

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