Invest In Thanking Your Donors

As I was figuring out blog posts for the fall, the usual topics came to mind – annual appeals, thanking your donors.  I decided to write about thanking donors first because this is just as important as the appeal letter, and many nonprofits don’t invest enough time in it.  A great thank you is the first step towards a good long-term relationship with your donors.

Two ways to go the extra mile when thanking your donors are to send a handwritten note and make a phone call.  Both of these will take a little planning up front.  Why not start now so you are ready to go as soon as your donations come in.

Remember, you need to thank your donors no later than 48 hours after you receive their donations.  

Send a handwritten note
A few handwritten sentences on a nice card is going to make much more of an impact than a printed thank you letter. It’s much more personal. Think about creating a thank you card or postcard with an engaging photo on the front. 

Since you will only be able to write a few sentences – make them count.  Use a warm, conversational tone. Try something like this.

Dear Susan,

You are amazing!  Your generous  contribution of $50 will help us buy two new coats for the kids at our family shelter.  Just in time, too.  The cold weather is coming.                

We really appreciate your support.

This shouldn’t take you that much time and it is time well spent.  You can put together a team of staff, board members, and other volunteers to write the notes.  Here is more information on why a handwritten note is so effective.  Like one of the people commenting on the post below, my mom also stressed the importance of writing thank you notes.

Call your donors
Calling your donors to say thank you is an easy, yet effective way, to show appreciation.

This is also something your board members can take on.  The executive director or other staff can make calls, too.  Make sure you find people who are comfortable making phone calls and want to engage in a conversation with donors.

Start planning this now.  Come up with script and a spreadsheet to record notes.  You may want to conduct a little mini-orientation to get your callers pumped up and give them an opportunity to practice.  Here is a sample script.
Hi, this is  ________ and I’m a board member at X nonprofit.  I’m calling to thank you for your generous donation of $50. Thanks to you, we will be able to buy two new coats for the kids at our family shelter. Just in time for the cold weather, too.  We really appreciate your support.

It’s fine to leave a message, but be sure to provide a call back number in case the donor wants to talk with someone.

Not only is calling your donors an effective way to say thank you, it can help you raise more money in the future.

Invest a little time and energy in showing gratitude to your donors.  Say thank you in a way that shows you mean it and not as if you are just going through the motions.
Photo by Jon Ashcroft via Flickr

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