Q: Our high school marching band was involved in fundraising for an upcoming trip to Hawaii to compete in a marching band competition. Unfortunately, the band had to cancel because we were unable to raise enough money. The band raised funds from corporate sponsors (to which letters have been sent, offering to use the money in other ways or to return the money), but we as band families were encouraged to raise funds on our own as well. Our family received donations from people other than relatives or close friends that make us hesitant to keep without some sort of communication about the outcome of the trip. What is the proper etiquette in a situation like this? Should the donations be returned? Is a letter required? If so, a suggestion as to appropriate wording would be much appreciated.
A: What an unfortunate situation. We agree that all donations should be returned with a note or letter sincerely thanking the donor for his/her support, and explaining that the trip is not happening so the gift is being returned. You would not want to offend friends and family by accepting a donation for a trip that didn’t happen — and being honest and respectful is key to all communications.