How, When and Why to Thank Donors
“Same-day turnaround is ideal,” Warwick says. “In the real world, less than one week is often the best that I can hope for.”
If you’re wrestling with whether or not to acknowledge every gift, think about the average gift of your donor file.
Brian Terpstra, account director at Massachusetts-based L.W. Robbins, suggests a quick file audit before proceeding.
“For some nonprofits with an average gift in the $10 to $12 range, it’s vital to acknowledge at the lower end,” Terpstra says. “Low donors may be the critical mass the nonprofit has had on its file. For others with an average gift in the $15 to $50 range, it may not be cost effective to acknowledge the $5 and $8 donors. Compute the lifetime value of each segment.”
Organizations also should pay special attention to first-time donors, for they might be testing a new relationship with you, Terpstra says.
“[First-time donors] should always be made to feel special,” he says. “They deserve more of a welcome message and should be sent more information about the organization. Better yet, send new donors a welcome kit to let them know more about your organization and give them more opportunities to give you feedback regarding why they gave. Include other ways the donor can communicate with you — e-mail, call-in number.”
Johanna Antes, director of support for RTN Family Stations, a group of Christian broadcasters, agrees: “First-time donors of any amount receive a thank-you phone call from one of our on-air announcers. Our donors are positively shocked when they get the call. They hear these people on the radio every day so they are excited to hear them on the phone.”
You might not have a radio personality on your team, but a call from a staff member could help your organization stand out.