A Little Gratitude Goes a Long Way!
Last February, Katrina, Dayton and I had the honor of presenting at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits’ Technology and Communications Conference. The topic of our presentation was “Keeping Your Donors: A High-Touch Approach in a High-Tech World.”
One of the things we emphasized is the importance of a timely and heartfelt thank you. It may sound simple, but it’s surprising how many donors report that they don’t feel like the organizations they support are ‘showing them the love.’
So what makes a thank you meaningful? Here are a few tips that will show your donors just how much you appreciate their support.
1. Make it timely. Try 48 hours. It sounds daunting, but consider this: a recent study by Cygnus Applied Research showed that 84 percent of surveyed donors said they would be more likely to give again if they received a thank you call within 48 hours of making the gift. Imagine what an impact it would make if every donor got a personal call within 48 hours from a board member, staff or a volunteer for no other reason than just to say, “Thank you!”
2. Make it personal. Once the thank you call is made, follow it up with a written letter within two weeks. The letter should have a personal salutation and be hand signed, if possible. Here’s an idea. The president of an organization I worked for would often cross out the “Dear Mr. and Mrs. So-and-So” computer-generated salutation and hand write the first names of people she knew. It was a nice personal touch that spoke volumes.
3. Be positive. I know. You’re thinking, “Of course our thank you letters are positive!” But have you ever sent a thank you that focused on how the gift would lessen the budget deficit or that was chock full of tax deduction language? Save the tax deduction language for the receipt or separate it on the bottom of the letter. Focus on the positive ways the gift will make a difference rather than how it will lessen the pain.
4. Make it concise and creative. Too many letters start out, “On behalf of…” or “Thank you for…” With the many creative ways nonprofits are improving our world, I know you can be more creative than that! Tell the story of a beneficiary or how you felt when you received the gift. Make it interesting and heartfelt.
5. Don’t ask for another gift. As a general rule, a thank you is not the time to ask for another gift. It’s the time to show your gratitude and build the relationship. Check out the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s blog about Smile Train, an organization that’s taking this concept to a whole new level. They even promise donors that if they make a gift, they’ll never ask again! I don’t necessarily recommend that you make that promise, but it is an interesting idea that when used properly and by the right nonprofit, seems to be very effective.
Still need evidence that stewardship activities are valuable use of your precious time? Take a closer look at Penelope Burk’s research-based Donor-Centered Philosophy.
How do you thank your donors? We’d love to hear your ideas.