‘Tis the season to thank your donors

24 Nov

Everybody likes to feel appreciated.

Giving thanks to our donors is one of the most important things non-profits do, and is one of the best ways to ensure that donations keep coming in.

Sadly, Penelope Burk, author of Donor Centered Fundraising, reports that “46% of donors decide to stop giving for reasons that are tied to lack of meaningful information or to a feeling that their giving is not appreciated.” No wonder creative fundraising expert Greg Bowden suggests that non-profits should thank donors at least seven times!

I don’t know of a single non-profit that is not grateful for its donors; it’s a shame to let gratitude go unexpressed.

Jocelyn Harmon, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Network for Good, offers some great advice on how to effectively thank donors on her awesome Marketing for Nonprofits blog. Here are her five gratitude tips:

Be personal – Use proper names, handwritten is always best!

Be creative – Have you thought of writing a song or making a movie? Don’t be shy, be different.

Be tangible – Make sure donors know how their gift is being used.

Be donor-centered – Avoid going on for too long about your organization. Focus on the donor.

Be fast – Acknowledge a gift within 48 hours.

Alan Sharpe, a professional writer of fundraising thank-you letters, advices organizations to “thank donors promptly, personally, particularly and positively.” He’s published a sample letter to help you get started.

Terry Alexrod, author of The Joy of Fundraising, echoes Jocelyn and Alan’s messages about writing specific thank-you letters: “Donors want to see what their gifts allowed you to accomplish – specific facts and stories of how they changed the lives of real people. This is how they will know their money was put to the best use in your programs and services.”

Have you properly thanked your recent donors? If you’ve missed the 48-hour mark, don’t worry. The recent Thanksgiving holiday will add some timeliness to an overdue expression of gratitude.

Better late than never, they say.


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