Updated: Feb 21, 2018
How often do you contact your supporters, friends or donors, simply to say #ThankYou and to tell them that you couldn't do what you do without them?
We are often all too focussed on the next gift, the regular gift, the donor development. How often should we say thank you, when, and how?
Here are our top 10 tips for saying thank you and meaning it
1) Say thank you for every gift, even when the donor has said they don't need thanks - There is a fine line between not 'wasting' money by sending thank you letters and missing an opportunity to be polite and courteous
2) Say thank you in different ways - If a donor responds to your 'ask' on an annual basis, make sure they don't receive exactly the same letter every year
3) Say thank you from different people - have your recipients / beneficiaries say thank you for the difference to their lives that a gift has enabled
4) No-one wants to hear from a fundraiser - unless you have developed a specific relationship with a donor and they would find it unusual if you didn't send the thank you, make sure that your thank you comes from someone the donor will appreciate the thanks from. This could be your Chief Executive, from a colleague in the team delivering your service, from a volunteer, from a Trustee, or as suggested in the previous point, from a patient / recipient / service user or indeed from the family member or loved one of a service user / patient / recipient
5) Plan how often you're going to say thank you. If someone has donated £5, a simple letter or card is plenty sufficient. Donations that run into the £thousands deserve a more detailed and more frequent response. Invite the donor in to see their gift in action. Send them an update on what their gift has enabled so far this year.
6) Plan your Donor Journey carefully - having a plan up front determining what your planned interaction is with donors of different types and different levels of gifts will help with your donor satisfaction and with the stewardship that could / should lead to the next gift
7) Use different forms of communication to say thank you - we often focus on the letter, the formal, the format we can keep a copy of. But how much more personal and immediate is a phone call? It enables immediate satisfaction for the donor, it allows an opportunity for relationship building and it gives the opportunity to save written thanks for later in the journey. Hold an event or open day - don't spend a fortune on it, but give people the opportunity to see in action that which their donation has funded. Thank people in the press and media - saying thank you in front of a wider audience than just the donor(s) themselves enables the publicising of their support and the publicising of your need for support to a much wider audience. Say thank you on social media - it not only conveys thanks to your existing donors, it publicizes your appreciation to potential donors.
8) Say thank you at the very beginning of your next ask - there is nothing more demeaning to an existing donor than to ask them for a donation as if it would be their first gift. Always acknowledge their previous gift(s) and the difference they (and others) have made to the organisation. This reminder help the donor to give a frame of reference to the value of their next gift. If you don't remind them how much they gave previously, or how long ago it was that they made their last gift, they may remember inaccurately. You also need to remind them what their gift will achieve and what would not be able to happen, were your organisation's income to drop.
9) Pay attention to detail - spell the name correctly, check you've not written to Mr Smith when the donation came from Mrs Smith, check the address and postcode, make sure your thank you note is spelt correctly and uses correct grammar. And use the opportunity to reinforce one of your key messages and use a one-line quote from a beneficiary / service user
10) Make life easy for yourself – proper thanks is such a small thing to offer, but a huge thing to miss. Once someone knows, likes and trusts you enough to give you their money, you’ve got them. The hard work is done. But if you don’t treat them well, and if you don’t thank them quickly enough or appropriately, you could have lost them forever. And so, you have to start on the engagement journey all over again. In a study detailed in the publication Understanding Donor Dynamics, Fundraising Guru, Adrian Sargeant, found that 13.2% of donors lapsed their support of an individual charity because the charity did not acknowledge their support.
So, this Valentines Day, why not take the opportunity to share the love. Seize the moment and send our a quick message of thanks and gratitude to those who make possible everything your charity is able to offer