Thanking donors shouldn’t be a process – it should be an experience. An experience that will last as long as someone donates to your organization, which hopefully will be for a long time.
If you treat thanking your donors as something you have to do instead of something you want to do, it will show.
Make a good first impression with your thank you landing page
Thanking your online donors is a three-part experience (not process). Your landing page is your first chance to say thank you and it often resembles the Amazon check-out page.
Open with Thank you, Linda! or You’re incredible! Include an engaging photo and a short, easy to understand description of how the donation will help the people you serve. Put all the tax deductible information after your message or in the automatically generated thank you email.
If you use a third-party giving site, you might be able to customize the landing page. If not, follow up with a personal thank you email message within 48 hours.
Write like a human
Next, make sure your donors receive an automatic thank you email after they donate online. This lets them know you received their gift and it didn’t get lost in cyberspace.
Just because your thank you email is automatically generated, doesn’t mean it needs to sound like it was written by a robot. Write something warm and personal.
Every donor gets thanked by mail or phone
I’m a firm believer that even if someone donates online, he should receive a thank you card, letter, or phone call within 48 hours. I made most of my donations online last year, and while I received automatically generated thank you emails, only a handful of the organizations mailed me a letter. None of them called or sent a handwritten card.
Make your donor’s day with a handwritten thank you card or phone call. You don’t have to do this alone. Recruit board members, other staff, and volunteers to write cards or make phone calls.
If that’s not possible,write an awesome letter and include a personalized handwritten note. I understand larger organizations may not be able to send all their donors a handwritten card, but they should have the resources to create a great letter.
Make your thank you message stand out
Most thank you letters fail to inspire. Create something that stands out. Be personal and conversational without using any vague jargon. Recognize past gifts or upgrades, and give a specific example of how the donation will make a difference. Something like this.
You’re amazing! Thanks to your generous donation of $75,we can provide a family with a week’s worth of groceries.
Thank you so much for being a longtime donor!
Here are some more examples, along with advice to help you create a thank you message that stands out.
Welcome your new donors with open arms
You want your new donors to keep supporting you for a long time, but that’s not happening. According to the 2016 Fundraising Effectiveness Report, the average retention rate for first-time donors is 29%.
A week or so after you thank your new donor, send her a welcome package.
Keep thanking your donors throughout the year
The thank you card/letter you send after you receive a donation is not the end, it’s the beginning.
Donor retention rates are pretty pathetic for all donors. One reason is that organizations do a poor job of thanking their donors.
This is why you need to find ways to thank your donors throughout the year. Thank them at least once a month. A thank you plan can help you with that.
Create a memorable thank you experience for your donors.