I am working on my business and family taxes, including looking at our charitable giving for the year. How we as nonprofits thank donors keeps coming to mind as I go over the list of organizations we have donated to.
Of the 42 donations we made last year (to 38 organizations), we didn’t receive a thank you from eleven. Just yesterday I received a thank you letter for a donation made December 1st.
Thanking donors is critical. I understand there is a capacity issue for many nonprofits, and I still think time can be set aside to thank donors. And remember that I don’t count the online auto-repsonse email as a thank you.
I count a personal email, call, or thank you letter. Reading this one may think “there is no way I can possibly do that”, and that makes me think that I need to write another post about how that can be possible for anyone.
Here’s an example of how a personal thank you grows a donor relationship while showing that the thanking process does not have to be done by only you:
I had made an ask of a donor who had not donated in three years. They hadn’t responded to anything I had sent. Add to this that they had donated before my time with the organization and didn’t know me.
One day I was making a call and the donor accidentally picked up the phone. They were in a rush to get out of the house with the kids, and could not speak. I asked if I could email them what I was going to speak about, and they said yes!
I emailed the ask. They had a couple of questions which I responded to quickly and soon they decided to give again. They doubled the size of their already large first gift. What a wonderful experience.
I asked my board chair to call them to thank them. This was a common occurence for me and them, so my board chair knew what to do and made the call.
The donor answered!
Immediately after the call, the donor called ME!
They said they had given hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past many years, to several organizations, and had never received a thank you call from a board chair. This of course made my heart swell, mainly because they were taking the time to thank me, and share how they felt about an action that was common place for our fundraising team.
I left that organization to create Altrui, and am ecstatic that the donor continues to generously give.
A simple thank you can catapult your relationships with your donor.
Thanks for reading!