After #GivingTuesday comes #ThankUNoteWed. To honor the occasion, I thought I'd round-up some good tips, advice, examples, and suggestions to help you on your way. While there are lots of great ideas and suggestions, the two most critical pieces of advice are to acknowledge gifts promptly and personally.
If you miss a detail or if you feel you could be more creative, you can also send a second, follow-up message later. The important thing is to send a first, sincerely appreciative message NOW. Timeliness does matter.
Best practices are to send your messages of appreciation within 48 hours of receipt of your gift. Your donor needs to know that the gift was received safely, that the funds didn't go astray, and a tardy thank you sends the message that you didn't really need the gift or that the gift wasn't important to you—messages you don't want to send.
Acknowledging donors in a prompt and personal way is critical to donor retention according to the research of Penelope Burke. What donors need and want most from the organizations to which they give is largely communication--knowing that their gifts are received, appreciated, and put to the good use for which they are intended.
To succeed with thanking donors, the following recommendations come from some of our top nonprofit fundraising and communication experts:
- Kivi Leroux Miller, the Nonprofit Marketing Guide offers Advice and Tips on Thank You Notes for Nonprofits.
- Nonprofit Hub's advice (Treat the thank you like the beginning of a beautiful friendship and don't ask for more money yet).
- Killer Thank You Letters from Gail Perry - Make the thank you prompt and personal and, if possible, have someone helped by your agency write it.
- 5 Thank You Letters Donors Will Love from Joan Fritz - Tell Stories! She offers some powerful examples.
- Rule of 7 - My own thoughts on thanking donors frequently. It never hurts to thank donors more than once!
- Develop a Stewardship Plan (or Thank You Plan) another, earlier post from my blog.
- Finally, one of my Pinterest Boards with ideas for inexpensive thank you gifts to make, is also a great source of thank you ideas. It can be a team-building, fun things to do with clients, board members, volunteers or staff to make thank you gifts for special donors or others who have helped your organization in some significant way. One organization I worked with used to make a special gift each year for every one who gave more than $500. If you and others at your organization enjoy crafting, this can be a great things to do.
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