Why Does Giving to Your Organization Feel Like a Transaction and Not a Relationship?

506328659_22260c5bb2_zFor the last couple of years, I’ve done my year-end giving online on #GivingTuesday.  The day before I purchased Christmas gifts on Cyber Monday, and there wasn’t much difference in the process.

Is it #GivingTuesday or Asking Tuesday?

On #GivingTuesday I was inundated with emails asking for donations, just like the day before I was barraged with emails from Amazon and Zappos.  I know organizations are trying to capitalize on #GivingTuesday, but it was more like Asking Tuesday.

I was told I only had a few hours left to give. Really?  But this isn’t the only day to give. If you’re going to stress urgency, focus on the need of your recipients and not your organization.

I saw very few hints of any type of relationship. Only one organization recognized me as a past donor. Your generosity makes the work we do possible

Many emails began with the dreaded Dear Friend.  Some of these came from large organizations that should be able to afford a database that personalizes salutations.

Some organizations stressed the importance of being a part of #GivingTuesday.  Why is that important? I would rather be a part of helping you make a difference for the people you serve.

Your donors don’t want to receive an appeal when they’ve already donated.  At the very least include a thank you like this – We want to extend a huge THANK YOU to those who have already given.

You can do better by opening your appeal with a story and thanking donors for their past support. Give donors a compelling reason to give and focus more on the relationship and not the transaction.

I’m not the only one who felt this way.  COULD DECEMBER BE THE MONTH WHEN YOU WILL LOSE THE MOST DONORS?

A receipt is not a thank you

When I shop online, I don’t expect the receipt I receive to be as warm and fuzzy as the sweaters I just purchased, but I do expect something personal after I make a donation.

Your thank you landing page is a chance for you to make a good first impression and that doesn’t always happen, especially on some third party sites.

Here’s an example that’s pretty blah.

Thank you for your generous gift to


This one’s a little better, although I would nix the On the behalf of ……

Thank You!

On behalf of the Board of Trustees and staff at X, thank you for your generous online contribution.

Even better

Thank you Ann!

None of the email thank you messages I received knocked my socks off. Here are two openings that are particularly bad.

Thank you for making a donation to x

Here’s an acknowledgment – you should keep this for your records:


Thank you for your donation to x

If you have any questions about your donation, please email x and reference number 151201134525.

Yes, I’m feeling the love right now.

But all hope is not lost. I received a follow up thank you email a few days later with the subject line

You #CrushedIt on Giving Tuesday

Almost every online donation I made felt like a transaction. I know you need to include the donation summary and tax ID information, but put that at the end of your thank letter, after you tell your donors they’re amazing.

Donor Relations Guru Lynne Webster has some additional insights #GivingTuesday 2015, and here are some ways to give your donors a better thank you experience. Don’t Treat Thanking Your Donors as an Afterthought

Keep this in mind for all your appeals, especially the ones you send at the end of December.

Focus on the relationship, not the transaction.

Photo by Paul Downey


2 thoughts on “Why Does Giving to Your Organization Feel Like a Transaction and Not a Relationship?

  1. […] One way to alleviate this is not to send fundraising appeals to donors who have already contributed to your current campaign.  If that’s not possible, thank anyone who’s already donated.  Keep your appeals donor-centered and focus on building relationships.  Why Does Giving to Your Organization Feel Like a Transaction and Not a Relationship? […]


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