Donor Recognition: The Real Key to Retention
Another facet to respecting donors is providing a timely gift acknowledgment and thank-you message. Donors want to know that the organizations they donate to both receive their gifts and appreciate them — quickly.
“When a donor gives a donation and doesn’t receive a thank-you in a timely fashion, it can rub the donor the wrong way. And sometimes, if an organization doesn’t have timely acknowledgments, a donor may receive a solicitation before receiving a thank-you, which can really rub them the wrong way — being asked again before being thanked,” Sayre says.
Merkle promotes implementing a daily acknowledgment program to its clients and recommends waiting no more than three days to get those thank-you recognitions out.
Respect thy data
In this day and age, first name and last name personalization simply doesn’t cut it anymore. With so much data out there on donors and so much technology that allows fundraisers to track how donors came onto the file, how much they’ve given, what they’ve responded to, what prompted them to give, etc., it’s inexcusable for fundraisers to not use this data to recognize their donors.
“I encourage everybody to step back and take a fresh look at your donor acknowledgments because technology has changed in terms of data captured, information gleaned,” Sayre says. “No matter how good your program is going, take a fresh look on how you can use data to improve it.”
Thus, it makes sense to use donor data in the content of the acknowledgment and steer clear of the generic thank-you. As Sayre points out, fundraisers have the data on each campaign, on how much each donor gave and by which means.
That means fundraisers need to take a look at how they communicate in terms of messaging in acknowledgments. Does everyone get the same message? They shouldn’t. Each message should be customized for the donor, Sayre says.