What’s In My Inbox | An apology email that’s transparent, personal, and genuine

January 15, 2020

Trebbe Johnson, author of Radical Joy in Hard Times: Finding Meaning and Making Beauty in Earth’s Broken Places, writes books that explore the relationships between humans, nature, and myth. She’s also founded nonprofit Radical Joy for Hard Times, which is an organization, practice, and community. This nonprofit seeks to find the light within dark places. I’m a past donor and receive the Radical Joy emails.

So here’s what happened. Trebbe emailed her people to let them know that Amazon offers nonprofits small donations if you shop with them, and she explained how it was done.

A day went by. She then emailed her subscribers again, this time to apologize. Why? People responded to the letter by voicing their displeasure with her suggestion to partner with Amazon, and they explained why. Four people expressed their opinion. One of them was Trebbe’s husband.

Trebbe kept this email apology personal. She totally owned her mistake, and she acted swiftly. I really respect how transparent she was in her message. It’s the way to be when you’re saying you’re sorry. She also clarified who she is, what she believes in, and what Radical Joy is really about. 

The truth is, whether you like it or not, everything is political, especially here and now. This current situation of the way the world is can be tricky at times, but it demands careful respect, consideration, and action. Who do you want to support, and what message do you want to convey through lending that support? Who are you and what are your values? You want your relationships to reflect who you are, and that includes who you accept money from. 

It all makes me think back to an important question that I answered in a post a few years back. Is all money good money? This topic feels even more important right now.

We all make mistakes. It’s about how you learn from them, recover from them, and go forth to do and be better. So check out Trebbe’s email below. It’s a winning little example of what a sincere and genuine (yet personal!) apology looks like. The subject header reads, Rethinking the decision to fund-raise with Amazon.

Dear RadJoy friends,

Yesterday I sent you an email letter telling you that Amazon.com offers nonprofits 0.5% donations if you shop with them, and I told you how to take advantage of that.

Since that letter went out, we’ve heard from four people who voiced their opinion that Amazon is not a good business to partner with. One person spoke of how morale at Whole Foods has gone down since Jeff Bezos bought the company. Two said they were disappointed that a conscientious organization like Radical Joy for Hard Times should work, as one woman put it, with a business that “has no regard for the people or the planet that enable it to survive.” The fourth person was my husband.

They are right. Partnering with Amazon was probably not the wisest of decisions. I myself take full responsibility; no one else on the team had anything to do with this.

It has always been our intention, from the very start, that we want to be an organization that treats the Earth and her people with respect and care. 

Thank you to those who wrote to express your feelings.


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