Is your nonprofit looking for a new idea on how to do fundraising? I’ve got one for you.
What is it? Should you spend your time and money on a revamped website? Or get on TikTok? Should you add a chatbot to your Facebook page, or start texting all your donors and prospects?
That’s not it. That’s not the kind of new idea I’m talking about.
Chasing the latest piece of technology is a distraction. It’s what they call Bright Shiny Object Syndrome. Unless you are a magpie, you should avoid that!
So what is this great new idea? It’s thanking your donors.
Apparently, that is a new idea for a lot of nonprofits, because they aren’t doing it–or not very well!
Six ways to thank your donors poorly
If you want your thanks to have no meaning, and no effect on your fundraising, here is an idea of what doesn’t work:
- Not thanking them at all. (I’m a donor, and yes, this still happens!)
- Letting an automated system send out a thank-you email that sounds like it was written by a robot.
- Having that email acknowledgement of the donation be the only “thanks” they get before you ask for money again.
- Sending a written thank-you letter that reads like a tax form.
- Mailing a more personal thank-you letter that asks for another gift right away (the dreaded “thask”).
- Mailing a good thank-you letter–even the ideal thanks–as a “one and done.”
A Thank-You Plan? Now, There’s an Idea!
If you really want to make friends, influence people, keep your donors and increase their lifetime giving to your organization, thanking donors well and often is the most important thing you can do. It cannot be haphazard. You will need a plan.
Here are some steps you can take that will make donors feel your gratitude.
First, edit that auto-response to the donor so it sounds like a person-to-person communication. (If your system won’t let you do that, get another system!)
Second, change your language from “We can’t do it without you” to “Thanks! Here’s what you did, by giving.” (Make the donor the hero.)
Third, have your written thanks go out in the mail within 48 hours of receiving the donation. That means having the ED, the Director of Development, or a Board member on call to sign and personalize the outgoing letters–during the busiest seasons, they should do it every day!
Fourth, invite them to take follow-up steps that get them more involved with the organization that do not involve giving more money. Ask them to follow you on social media, or sign up for your newsletter, to sign a petition or show up for an event.
Fifth, communicate, communicate, communicate! Make sure they never ask “Just what difference did it make when I gave to that organization?” without readily knowing the answer.
Sixth, put your thanks on your communications calendar. Not only will the donors be happy to hear from you, but it will make your day, too!