by Natalie Grammer, FCLC ’21
Hi (insert individual’s name),
My name is Natalie Grammer and I’m reaching out on behalf of the Hope for Depression Research Foundation with an exciting partnership opportunity.
After an amazing summer at my internship at Hope for Depression, I had the opportunity to stay on for the fall semester. HDRF felt like a kind of home to me. I grew really close with my coworkers over the course of the summer and my time there helped me to feel more ownership over my work and more comfortable in my cubicle.
As the fall started, we turned our attention away from the race of the summer and towards our two large fall campaigns: the HOPE Luncheon Seminar and #GivingTuesday. A shift in the event type –– from an active event to an educational luncheon and online campaign –– meant a shift in my outreach. Instead of calling stores in Southampton, I began emailing stores, companies, and brands based nation-wide about our two fall initiatives, and this time, I had to ask for a donation. This new medium of communication brought an unfamiliar distance in the outreach process. I no longer heard the voice of the person I was contacting, and often I wasn’t addressing a specific individual but emailing a general “info@” address.
Though I appreciated the fact that an email gave me more control over my initial outpouring of information to a potential partner, I found myself shocked that I missed hearing another person’s voice on the other end of the phone. This is not to say that I missed some of the aggressive or surprising reactions people gave me on the phone. I did not. Rather, I missed the feeling of making a request to an individual person.
With my email outreach, I had to face the very real abyss of an email inbox. I cannot count how many times I’ve received a marketing email and either immediately deleted it or opened it purely to no longer have a notification in my inbox. It’s very easy to dismiss a marketing email as somehow not generated by an individual person, and therefore not worth my time.
Email outreach this fall at HDRF has shown me the other side of this interaction. First, these emails are painstakingly crafted by individuals, often with several processes of drafting, checking, and collaborating with members of their team with the self-reflexive tagline, “Thoughts?.” Second, it can be very frustrating when I don’t receive a response; obviously, it can be disheartening when an individual or business you’ve reached out to in hopes of gaining a campaign sponsor declines your request, but it can be even more discouraging not to receive a response at all.
My internship at HDRF has taught me empathy. Yes, sending outreach emails has helped teach me better human empathy. By putting me on the other end of communication, my fall outreach process has shown me the very real energy and care people put into something as seemingly small as sending an email. It has reminded me to think about all of the hard work people put into aspects of my life that I dismiss or take for granted. I have become a more mindful person (and am working to continue to become a more mindful person) in the types of communication I have with other people because of my time so far this semester with HDRF.
Now, instead of immediately deleting the mass emails I get, which I dismiss as spam, I take the time to respond. At the very least, I open the emails or take a moment to appreciate what team of people wrote that message before I delete it. I hope that everyone does the same, especially if the email comes from Hope for Depression Research Foundation because if so, there’s a chance I am waiting for an email back.