I can't say enough nice things about the Alabama Soap Meeting gang. Every year our company donates a great deal of product to soap gatherings. Without fail, it is the Alabama group that sends a personalized thank you letter once the gathering is over, which includes the hand written signatures of every attendee. I repeat handwritten, NOT copied. AND... it comes by mail, not email. Even better!!
Karen White does a fantastic job in making certain that every sponsor is recognized and appreciated for donations made. I wish other soap gathering committees would step-up to the plate and get as organized as this group. The only other gathering this year that has sent thanks to our company for donations (after the event) was the Arizona group. It is appreciated. It takes time and money for companies to put together goodie bag donations and door prizes. For the most part, there is no acknowledgment that the product was received much less given away. Placing a banner on the gathering web site is great, but a personalized thank you is still proper etiquette. If someone gives a wedding gift, it's acknowledged by sending a thank you note. Whenever you receive a gift or donation of any kind, you send a thank you. Maybe I'm from the old school, but I'm beginning to sense that these gathering committees have come to "expect" supplier donations and we suppliers have promoted that expectation (at least in my opinion) because we willingly send off free stuff without question or concern.
In the past, GoPlanetEarth has donated gift certificates of generous value to gatherings only to find they are never used. I have spoken with other major soap suppliers about this issue, they too find that donated gift certificates go unused. Where in the heck do they go? Who wouldn't take advantage of free soaping product? It baffles me; OK, it also slightly irritates me that someone wouldn't use a gift certificate. Our site is extensive and I find it hard to believe you couldn't find something useful.
Next year, I will be changing our polices for donated product. We are inundated with requests for gathering donations and the list continues to grow. I'm finding its time to rethink how it all works. Especially when there is little thanks from gathering planning committees once an event takes place. It would be nice to know how the event went, was it successful, how many attendees, etc. It's not just the issue of receiving a written thanks, it's the disorganized manner that these gatherings are soliciting product. Just this week I received a second email request from a (major) gathering soliciting donations. Our company had already sent donations over 45 days ago (to the tune of over $5oo). It's a bit perplexing to think that the planning committee didn't even know they had received the product.
Anyway, I will be rethinking how I want to handle gathering donations for next year. Between my two companies, we donate a substantial amount of product every year.