Friday, October 14, 2011

Thanks a Million: How to Thank Your Donors So They'll Come Back and Give More

I have the privilege of giving this presentation to a group of nonprofits today at a training for Give to the Max Day: Washington - a one day fundraiser to raise over $3 million for DC nonprofits.  You can watch the event LIVE here.

I'm speaking on the topic of saying thanks or showing gratitude to your donors.

Sounds sort of dull and obvious.  (Do we really need reminders and tips on how to say thanks?)

Unfortunately, Yes!

According to Penelope Burk, author of Donor Centered Fundraising, one of the main reasons that people STOP giving to charity is that their gifts are not recognized.  According to Burk,

"46% of donors decide to stop giving for reasons that are tied to lack of meaningful information or to a feeling that their giving is not appreciated."
That's a DISMAL statistic and so easily fixed. 

Here are some of my recommendations.

1) Be personal.  Do NOT send form letters.  Get your volunteers, board members, and staff to write a few thank you letters each day, in their own hand.

2) Be creative.  Make a thank you video from your staff.  Write a thank you song!  Watch this video from Charity: Water for inspiration.

3) Be tangible.  The other reason that donors STOP giving to nonprofits is because they don't understand how their gifts are used.  Tailor your thank-yous to the ask or how the gift came in and let donors know they great work you are doing with their gifts.

4) Be donor-centered.  Put your donors in the center of all of your communications, including your thank-yous.  This is not the time to wax on and on about your organization.  Make your thank-you about ME!

5) Be fast.  This is SO important.  Do your acknowledgements within 48 hours of receiving a gift, no matter the size.  Think about it.  If it takes you weeks or months (Yikes!) to thank me for my gift, that plants serious doubt in my mind about the efficacy of your work and does not make me feel valued.

We have a GREAT OPPORTUNITY as nonprofits provide our donors with an outlet for their altruism and to acknowledge their value as people!

Take every opportunity to lavish your donors with thanks and praise.  After all, their time, talent and treasure powers the work that you do.




Susan Gordon said...

Great article Jocelyn - I agree that thanking is one of the best things you can do to get recurring donations. Did you see that Causes launched Thank-You Videos? A great way to thank donors:

Sarah said...

This is great information -- heads up, fundraisers! Making donors feel like a person instead of a wallet goes such a long way when it comes to results. Thanks for putting this out there.

Ned said...

A winning presentation! Couldn't agree more; a simple, personalized thank you can go a long way. p.s. you find the funniest comics!

Jocelyn said...

Thanks, Ned!

Jocelyn said...

Thanks, Sarah and Susan!

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