Maybe it was just me, but the just completed end-of-year “gold rush” seemed unusually vociferous, what with the addition of emails, texts, and tweets to the usual direct mail onslaught. Even the stodgiest of charities jumped into the online fundraising waters, panning for riches beside the early adapters. Frantic fundraisers left no method of asking untried as the clock ticked down on 2012.
Then the calendar flipped over to 2013 and quiet returned to the land. Too much quiet, in fact. Charities hot for donors’ attention in late December have gone cold in January. Multiple asks, followed by nary a word of appreciation.
Despite all they’ve been told, there are apparently parts of thank you that some fundraisers still don’t understand, including:
- the part about saying it quick. Ideally, a thank you letter should go out within 48 hours of a gift coming in. There’s no excuse (except ineptness) for making donors wait weeks (or months) for their gifts to be acknowledged.
A hint for harried fundraisers. Draft the thank you right along with the appeal letter. You can do some tweaking later, but having words already on paper is a blessing when the gifts start rolling in.
- the part about saying it more than once. Seven times seventy may be overkill. But it seems reasonable to match acknowledgements to asks, one for one, venue to venue. And remember, sincere trumps elaborate or expensive every time.
Another hint for harried fundraisers. You tested your social media savvy via the appeal process. Now use your amped-up communication skills to say thank you.
- The part about thanking via reporting. Surprise the folks who gave at year-end with a mid-year report that highlights mission accomplished because of their good gifts. Again, nothing fancy. Heart-felt is the key. Information nurtures greater generosity, as well as greater affection for your cause.
One more hint for harried fundraisers. If your fiscal year ends on June 30 (or any other time of the year), there’s another gold rush ahead. Reporting in with donors before asking for another gift is essential.
Fundraising guru Penelope Burk writes that 93 percent of the folks who she studied would “definitely or probably give again the next time they were asked by a charity that thanked them promptly and in a personal way . . . and followed up later with a meaningful report on the program [the donor] funded.”
In other words, thank you is simply too important for you to misunderstand any part of it. All the more so if your goal is to grow givers’ hearts toward God.