Say ‘Thank You,’ Why Don’t You?
A few weeks ago, I shared how I made 20 online donations on Black Friday. For some, this was a repeat donation; for others, it was my first.
Of course, all organizations sent me an auto-responder message and a “thank you” email message. So far, so good.
But, I’m very disappointed in what came after that. Why? In 65 percent of the organizations, there was a big nothing.
- As of Saturday’s mail (16 days later), I have only received five “thank you” letters in the mail. That is 20 percent. Out of these five, three included a personal note.
- In addition, I received two organizations sent me the “thank you” letter electronically, so I could print them out. Not ideal, but at least they did something extra. That’s 10 percent.
- One organization sent me a personal note and called me to say “thank you!” That’s another 5 percent.
So, to date, only 35 percent of organizations took the opportunity to make me, as a donor, feel special about my choice to support their mission. Pretty sad. Don’t worry, I’m not going to name names, but you know who you are.
I realize this is prime giving season, so it’s a busy time. I happen to know that the five organizations that sent me a “thank you” letter all have different donor base systems, so that can’t be the excuse. They all make it work. All have minimal staff. In fact, the first thank you letter I received came from an organization with only one person in development, so they made it work.
It’s a matter of priorities. Even if you only create thank you letters once a week, I would have received it by now.
And yes, I get it. I made a donation online, so you’d presume that I’d like to hear from you only online, right? Wrong. I’m in my 50s. I like getting things in the mail. I like feeling special, don’t you?
None of the online donation forms asked me if I wanted to opt out of a “thank you” letter. So why are you assuming that I’d not want to receive something hard copy for my taxes?
This is prime giving season. If you sent me a thank you right away, I might actually be tempted to make another donation this month. But why would I do that, if you didn’t even properly thank me for my earlier gift?
Please, set yourself up to succeed and get repeat donations (and better yet, monthly gifts). Go back to basics: Make your thank you letter a priority, and your organization will benefit.
Erica Waasdorp is one of the leading experts on monthly giving. She is the president of A Direct Solution, a company serving nonprofit organizations with fundraising and direct marketing needs, with a focus on monthly giving and appeals. She authored "Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant" and "Monthly Giving Made Easy." She regularly blogs and presents on fundraising, appeals and monthly giving — in person and through webinars. She is happy to answer any questions you may have about this great way of improving retention rates for your donors.
Erica has over 30 years of experience in nonprofits and direct response. She helped the nonprofits she works with raise millions of dollars through monthly giving programs. She is also very actively supports organizations with annual fund planning and execution, ranging from copywriting, creative, lists, print and mail execution.
When she’s not working or writing, Erica can be found on the golf course (she’s a straight shooter) or quietly reading a book. And if there’s an event with a live band, she and her husband, Patrick, can be found on the dance floor. She also loves watching British drama on PBS. Erica and Patrick have two step sons and a cat, Mientje.