When I was a kid, a Thanksgiving tradition at our house was that we went around the table and took turns sharing at least one thing we were thankful for. We couldn’t start eating until everyone had shared something. You can imagine how popular that tradition was with three hungry boys!
Now that I’m an adult with a family of my own, I have found myself truly enjoying this chance to express gratitude. And when my own kids complain that they are hungry or don’t want to share, I promise them that one day they will understand.
I bring this up because it’s important to remember the power of giving thanks. Here are a couple best practices that you should always keep in mind when thanking your donors.
- Never assume. In today’s hectic ‘run, run, run world,’ you never truly know which messages are getting through. This is critical to remember when it comes to thanking donors! This past spring, we assisted one of our large, national nonprofit clients with a donor survey. Surveys are not only great for lead generation, but also for identifying ‘affinity’ information. With this survey, the client identified new planned giving donors and also received candid feedback that their donors don’t feel thanked enough. This information turned out to be invaluable to our client— now their marketing outreach and stewardship efforts include messages of thanks.
- Keep it personal. Although you can automate almost anything nowadays, when it comes to truly thanking someone you must keep it personal. Just last week I heard Penelope Burke speak at the Minnesota Planned Giving Conference and she shared some great tips for ‘keeping it personal,’ including the importance of a personal letter as opposed to a form ‘thank you’ letter. Check out those 20 tips here at Burk’s Blog.
- Thank your donors, often. Many nonprofits make the mistake of only thanking donors after that gift has been made. While important, this is a critical miss. Utilize opportunities and mediums throughout the year to thank your donors. This could be as simple as including ‘thank you’ buckslips in all gift receipts and mailings, to blocking out a couple hours a few weeks after a marketing mailing drops to call donors and thank them for their support.
In a way, my parents, with their Thanksgiving tradition, were instilling this in my brothers and me: Being thankful for people and relationships means more when you express that gratitude to them.
Personally, I want to thank you for choosing the Stelter Insights Blog. It is an honor and a privilege to help you further your organization’s mission and build lasting relationships with your donors.
P.S. If you’d like to learn more about ways to thank your donors and engage them, check out some of the creative ways we’ve helped nonprofits like you have success over at our website.