After the Acquisition
For some months now, I’ve been collecting samples — giving small donations to a number of charities (in addition to those I usually support), so that I can get an idea of who’s doing what with their “post-gift” donor communications.
Ignoble intentions, yes. But to your benefit: I’ve found that way too many follow-up donor communications actually scuttle their mission to earn the continued trust and year-to-year support of donors.
Without debating the merit of “thank-you/please” notes or how soon a second appeal should follow the first — that’s a whole other kettle of fish — I’ll tell you that the post-gift messages I received (thank-you letters, standard replies and the like) sometimes were confusing and impersonal — even from some of the best-known nonprofits out there.
So I wasn’t surprised to read this from Adrian Sargeant, a fundraising professor at the Indiana University Center on Philanthropy, in the April 5 issue of The Chronicle of Philanthropy: “Retention is the single biggest issue we face as a sector today.”
But there’s good news. In the same article, Sargeant also noted that boosting repeat donor ranks by just 10 percent can improve your returns up to 200 percent.
Could post-gift communications be the biggest sleeper opportunity in your organization?
You decide: Check out what your nonprofit neighbors sent me. And use these examples to avoid repeating their mistakes — or apply the accompanying tips to mend your existing messages.
In place of actual nonprofit names, I use the generic AnyName Charity in each sample below. You’ll find no finger-pointing here.
Tip No. 1: Know what’s going out the door
First, know what your donors receive. Too often, nonprofits relegate anything that isn’t an appeal to the bottom of the creative heap. And everyday replies, thank-you notes and other member communications often are handled by a department with no connection to development.