These 12 Ways to Thank Donors Will Keep Them from Saying Goodbye
NonProfitHub: 11.18.2013 by Marc Koenig
I never understood the point of thank-you letters.
My mom would insist. “You’ve got to send a thank-you letter!”
Three weeks after my birthday: “Have you written your thank-you letter yet?”
Four weeks after my birthday: “You’re grounded if you haven’t sent that letter by this afternoon.”
“What’s the point?” I thought. My relatives KNOW I’m thankful! I’ll tell them next time I see them. Ugh, and I’m so busy playing video games.
Ridiculous right? Thankfully I wised up in my later years. I figured out that if I wrote a really great, sincere and funny thank-you letter (usually with hand-drawn illustrations of the gift’s potential applications), my relatives not only appreciated it… but they’d actually put the letter up on the fridge and leave it there for months. Seriously, guys?
The secret of the great thank-you note: if you do it right, the givers are actually happier giving to you than they were before they gave the gift. It’s not an obligation to give a gift any more—it’s a privilege!
Here are 12 ways to start thanking your donors today:
1. Offer a Next Step
The hours, days and weeks after a donation are the time when your donor will be most excited about your cause, and most likely to remember you. Offer them a next step before their passion cools. (Note: You do NOT say “Please donate more!” See below for why not.) The next step can be as simple as “You can join our email list for [X cool benefit, updates, etc.]!” or “We’re throwing this free event for new donors in your area” or “check out our website to see watch X video on what you’re making possible.” What’s the next step?
2. Thank You… for Being YOU
What’s infinitely more valuable than a donation? The person who gave it. The donation happens once. The donor could be around for life. So thank them… for being THEM! The kind of person who gives to important causes. That’s what they’re buying with their donation: confirming their identity as someone who not only cares, but cares enough to take action. Thank me for being me, not for “my donation of [form-filled donation amount].”
3. Send a Handwritten Note
This is one of the coolest things you can receive in our digital age. If you’re a small nonprofit trying to grow your donor base, this is where it’s at. Sure, it won’t scale forever, but right now, that’s not important. Save it for your most committed donors once you’re really big. But do this. Thank-you note writing is a great activity for board member fundraising too—it’s low pressure, with a big return on the time invested. Don’t underestimate the handwritten thank-you like Young Marc did.
First time donors who get a PERSONAL thank you within 48 hours are 4 times more likely to get a 2nd gift – @thattomahern #afpcongress
— Rory Green (@RoryJMGreen) November 18, 2013