Many people donate online now. There’s a good reason for this. It’s usually fast and easy, or at least it should be. You may be opting for an online only year-end campaign this fall, although I do recommend mailing an appeal letter if you can.
One issue with online donations is the poor thank yous that come after your donor has given you a gift. I like to think of what happens after someone donates online as a thank you experience, which consists of a thank you landing page, thank you email, and a thank you by mail or phone, plus additional bursts of gratitude throughout the year.
Even though your thank you landing page and thank you email are automatically generated, it doesn’t mean they need to sound like they were written by a robot.
There’s a human being on the other end and they just did something great by donating to your organization. Don’t they deserve to be lavished with gratitude? Of course they do. Especially in 2020, possibly one of the worst years ever, when we’re dealing with so much and missing out on personal connections.
It’s not hard to make your online thank yous more personal. Here’s what you need to do.
Use words that convey gratitude
First, make a list of words you associate with gratitude. Did you come up with words such as transaction and processed? I hope not, although those are words I often see after I make an online gift. I cringe every time I see transaction complete or your gift was successfully processed.
Words matter and some words of gratitude include appreciate, grateful, and of course, thank you.
Think of the donations you receive as the start or continuation of a relationship and not a transaction.
Make a good first impression with your thank you landing page
Your landing page is your first chance to say thank you and it’s usually about as engaging as an Amazon receipt. In fact, I’ve seen online shopping receipts that are more personal than some nonprofit “thank you” landing pages.
Remember to use words that convey gratitude. You could open with Thank you, Kara! or You’re amazing! Capture your donor’s attention with an engaging photo or video. You could also create a thank you word cloud. Include a short, easy to understand description of how the donation will help your clients/community during these uncertain times.
Invite donors to connect with you in other ways such as signing up to receive your newsletter, following you on social media, and volunteering.
If you use a third-party giving site, you might be able to customize the landing page. If you can’t, follow up with a personal thank you email message within 48 hours.
Don’t let your donors think they only made a transaction.
Write a thank you email that your donors will appreciate
Start off by thinking of a good subject line. At the very least say Thank You! and not Donation Received. Stay away from the dreaded words processed and transaction. You want your thank you email to stand out in your donor’s overflowing inbox.
Open your message with Thank You or You’re incredible, and not the usual On Behalf of X organization. Then let your donors know how they’re helping you make a difference for your clients/community.
You want to follow the rules of writing a good thank you letter. The key word here is good. It amazes me how many thank you letters/emails don’t do a good job of saying thank you.
You won’t be able to segment much, but you should be able to distinguish between single gifts and monthly donations.
Speaking of monthly donations, many organizations send their monthly donors an email acknowledgment each month. There’s nothing wrong with that, but what’s wrong is many of these are just plain boring and usually include the same generic message each month.
Your monthly donors have made a long-term commitment to you. You can show the same commitment to them by writing a better thank you email and mixing up the content by sharing updates. This is even more important now.
You can include a donation summary or receipt with your thank you email, but that should be at the end – AFTER you pour on the gratitude. I prefer the term donation summary because it doesn’t sound as transactional.
Remember, you’re a human writing to another human. Don’t make your message sound like it was written by a robot. Write something warm and personal.
Don’t stop showing gratitude
Since your thank you landing page and email are automatically generated, you can’t make them as personal as a handwritten note, phone call, or letter. That’s why you need to do at least one of those for your online donors. An online thank you is not enough. Also, your donors may not see your thank you email, but you want to make sure they feel appreciated.
You also want to keep thanking your donors throughout the year – at least once a month if you can. If it’s too hard to use mail or make phone calls right now, you can keep thanking by email, as well as social media. A personalized thank you video is another great way to show some gratitude.
You want to give your donors a thank you experience. Your thank you landing page and email acknowledgment are just the beginning. Make them engaging and personal and keep up that theme as you continue to show gratitude to your donors throughout the year.