Who Are Your Votaries?
On March 22, 1885 Philip Bender, his wife, and their eight children donated $2.65. They explained in a letter:
"Philip and Eliza Bender, 50 cents each; Anna, 25 cents; Frannie, 25 cents; Leonard, 10 cents; Frank, 15 cents; Alice, 10 cents; Ralph, 10 cents; Carri, 10 cents; Miss Nicey, 25 cents."
No one knows if Miss Nicey was the dog or perhaps a nickname for a new baby in the family but this Jersey City family joined more than 160,000 other donors, including young children, businessmen, street cleaners and politicians, to raise 2.5 million dollars in what many consider to be the first crowd funding campaign ever.
Because of their generosity, the base on which the Statue of Liberty now stands was completed and on October 28, 1886 the Statue of Liberty was completed and dedicated.
The last piece was riveted into place during the dedication ceremony and Grover Cleveland read these words:
We are not here today to bow before the representation of a fierce warlike god, filled with wrath and vengeance, but we joyously contemplate instead our own deity keeping watch and ward before the open gates of America and greater than all that have been celebrated in ancient song. Instead of grasping in her hand thunderbolts of terror and of death, she holds aloft the light which illumines the way to man’s enfranchisement. We will not forget that Liberty has here made her home, nor shall her chosen altar be neglected. Willing votaries will constantly keep alive its fires and these shall gleam upon the shores of our sister Republic thence, and joined with answering rays a stream of light shall pierce the darkness of ignorance and man’s oppression, until Liberty enlightens the world.
President Cleveland’s use of the word votaries refers to the future men and women who will dedicate their lives to the cause of freedom. That word votary is not a word we use very much now, 130 years later. A votary is someone who is a devoted follower. He or she is a loyal advocate of someone or something. Traditionally the word is used in a religious context such as the characterization of a nun or a monk. But it can also be utilized in non-traditional settings such as sports teams (Go Colts!) or movie genres (Have you seen how the movie viewers are dressed for the new Star wars film?) or even print and mail service providers.
Here it is an example of a non-traditional usage of the word votary:
“The Vice President for Enrollment Management refuses to have her division’s marketing materials printed off campus at a commercial print shop. She is a votary of the university in-plant.”
What could an in-plant do that would turn a customer into a votary? What would an in-plant like this be known for?
This is a question every in-plant print manager should be asking of their employees.
Votary-building should be at the top of our “services we provide” lists.
In-plants who maintain a fiercely loyal customer base will be known for consistency.
They will be known for:
- Consistent Quality (providing careful attention to content and visual identity, accuracy, great craftsmanship, extra care, meeting or exceeding expectations)
- Consistent Service (meeting or exceeding deadlines, providing easy ordering processes, being accommodating, getting it right the first time)
- Consistent Pricing (no rush charges, no surprises, no hidden fees, providing good communication, providing evidence of cost control, providing free pick-up and delivery, providing easy to understand invoices)
- Consistent Gratitude (consistently expressing appreciation to our clients for the opportunity to partner with them in their work)
In a way, like the Bender family of 1886, in-plant print and mail service providers are crowd funders. We may not be contributing money to the cause of our parent institutions, but we are contributing our time, our talents and our consistent, dependable service. When we do this, we have the potential to make votaries out of our clients. Our clients should not only be aware we support them in their work; they should be our biggest fans.
Related story: The Magnificence of the Big Picture
Dwayne Magee is now in his 17th year as director of Messiah University Press and Postal Services. His department was recipient of the 2018 IPMA Organizational Impact Award, the 2015 IPMA Innovation Award, the 2017 ACUP Green Service Award, and the 2015 ACUP Collaborative Service Award. Prior to joining Messiah, he worked for 17 years at Alphagraphics as an assistant manager and ISO coordinator. He is president of the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He is currently an English major (part-time) with a concentration in writing at the college where he works. Outside of work, Dwayne enjoys exploring spiritual, environmental and social concerns through creative writing and the arts. He can often be found speaking on the topic of diversity in bookstores, public libraries and elementary schools, where he makes use of his award-winning children’s book “A Blue-Footed Booby Named Solly McBoo.” His travel writing and fictional essays have made appearances in various publications including the Northern Colorado Writers Anthology and the Goose River Anthology published by Goose River Press. Dwayne is the father of two boys and he resides in Mechanicsburg, Pa., with his wife Sue and their two dogs. Contact him at: DMagee@Messiah.edu