When people find out I consult to nonprofits, they tell me their pet peeves. Most of what’s annoying them is how we ask for money.
Thanking and Asking Again in the Same Letter
More than one friend has complained to me about what Lynne Wester has called the dreaded thask: the thank-you note combined with a new ask. “I just sent a donation, and here they are asking for more. It’s like they’re trying to tell me I gave too little the first time!”
I tell them that the numbers show a certain number of donors will give right away if you ask them again. That doesn’t impress my friends. They want nonprofits to know that a certain number of donors will get that “thank-you, now give more” message and never give again.
You know we have a tremendous problem with donor renewal in our sector. The chances are that two of three people who gave to you for the first time in 2017 won’t give again this year. Could the “thask” have something to do with it?
Claire Axelrad tells us:
An Abila Donor Engagement Study found that 21% of donors say they were never thanked for their gift. Some weren’t, but my hunch is that a lot were. They just didn’t perceive what you sent them to be a thank you. Too often thank you letters sound exactly like fundraising letters.
What Donors Want You to Do Instead
Now, when you thank donors, you do want to ask them to take a next step. The “call to action” can be to join your email list, or follow you on Facebook, or even come to an event.
And you do want to give them more evidence that they made a good decision when they made their first donation. Show the impact they made.
But what you don’t want to do is ask right away for more money. And what you really don’t want to do is what my friend who tweets under the name @thewhinydonor describes as her pet peeve:
The first thank you letter arrived today. And it contained an enormous reply envelope, bigger than the letter. COMPLETE TURNOFF.
When the first thing I see when I open your acknowledgement is a big reply envelope asking for more, my warm glow of giving is obliterated.
How are your favorite charities annoying you (and probably not even realizing it)? What’s your pet peeve?