Thanking Your Donors: Q&A

With our year-end fundraising behind us, we've thanked our donors and are already moving on to think about next year's campaign--but we wanted to take a minute to talk about that ever-important thank you. You should be thanking donors for every fundraising campaign. We say it a lot, but it bears repeating—thank your donors.

Q: How frequently should we thank our donors in, say, a year?
In an ideal world I’d like to thank donors once a month. That doesn’t mean I want to send 12 letters or cards. Using technology like email, blogs, videos or social media can make this a manageable goal. Planning out a monthly Facebook post appreciating your donors is not a huge task, but can go a long way to make donors feel appreciated and encourage prospects to pull the trigger and donate for a first time. Creating a short profile of a donor every month (or every other month) for your blog can be a great way to generate content while showing people how much you appreciate their contribution.

Q: Most people know that a “personal” letter is just a mail merge. Great time saver, but it’s not very personal. What can make our thank you efforts seem more personal?
I love the idea of mail-merging names into emails. I received an amazing thank you letter from Planned Parenthood a few years ago that said “Thank you Andrea!” in huge letters on the top of the email. Now, I know this was just a mail-merge, like any old thank you letter, but seeing it online somehow felt more personal.

And while I’m a big fan of technology, I really feel like the personal phone call is the way to go. Each year our Board members make personal phone calls to everyone one of our donors. Granted, we only get about 100 for our end of year campaigns, but it is a wonderful touch point. Not only does it make our donors feel appreciated, it provides our Board a perfect opportunity to connect with our constituents directly.

Q: Is it possible to thank donors too much? So that they’re asking, “Why is this org spending so much on postage and mailing labels”, other token gifts?
Yes and no, I do think you can send too much mail. Especially to millennial donors (or online donors) who are often very conscious of the paper and money wasted. However, when you think about all of the ways you can augment the paper thank you letter with online tools, I don’t feel like you can really thank people too much. Just make sure you are sincere in your appreciations. Remember, reporting back on your progress is a huge way to thank your donors. And that is something you should try to do every day.

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