A Simple, But Powerful ‘Thank You’ Can Make a Big Impact
"If you are moved to such a degree that you feel the pain, and that you can feel the tears running down your face, then you're looking at an opportunity to make a change, to make a difference in the world." — John Francis
I love this quote by John Francis, because it captures what you need to do with your donors. And that is to move them to such a degree that they feel the pain, they feel the tears running down their face and they understand that they have an opportunity to make a difference in the world.
And this “moving the donor” to feel does not have to be complicated and involved. In fact, the most powerful way to tell a donor that his or her giving is making a difference is to tell him or her about one life that has changed. I was recently sent an example of this, and I want to pass on to you.
The format of the thank you is a standard size card.
The front of the card has a very large picture of a father with his 10-year-old son. And the caption below the picture says: “Paul and his family thank you…”
Inside, the copy continues as follows:
“Last year, Paul took a brave step. He took responsibility for his drug and alcohol problem and entered the [name of organization] Rehabilitation Center. After months of hard work, he has a promising future—he’s working and planning to go back to school. Most important, his beautiful wife and son have Paul back.
Every week, the entire family goes to [name of organization] to stay focused on sobriety.
Paul and his family thank you for your financial gifts to [name of organization]. You made it possible for little Max to have his dad back. You are making a tremendous difference in the lives of people in our community.”
Here is why this is so powerful:
First of all, it’s the picture. I am looking at it right now. And I can feel it. I see a young father looking straight into the camera. There is hope, kindness, care and love in his eyes. You want to like him. And snuggled up to his father’s neck is his son Max with a cute smiley face hat on. You can tell that Max loves his dad and is glad to have him back. There is energy about the picture that just pulls you in. And, if you are the donor, you immediately know that your giving has made a difference in this man’s life and the life of his young son.
And second, it’s the story. Something good has actually happened. A father, once gripped by drugs and alcohol, is getting free from the prison he has been in. And his young son, who has desperately missed his father, is finding comfort that “dad is back.” You can see it in the picture. You can feel it when you read the words.
Jeff and I have talked quite a bit about “taking the donor to the scene,” the phrase that describes using words and pictures to help the donor understand, feel and “see” the need. The same thing is true on the backside of giving—the stewardship side. If you can show the donor what his or her giving has done, through a picture and a story, it can have a tremendous impact.
And it doesn’t need to be complicated. It doesn’t need charts, graphs, financial reports and data. Just one life. Just one story. That is all that is needed. And it will fill the donor up with joy. It will affirm that his or her giving has made a difference. And all will be well. This is the path toward donor retention, because it is the only thing that fundamentally matters to a donor—that something good has happened because they gave.
Take steps this week to send a message like this to each donor on your caseload. Each one of them needs to know that their giving matters.
If you’re hanging with Richard it won’t be long before you’ll be laughing.
He always finds something funny in everything. But when the conversation is about people, their money and giving, you’ll find a deeply caring counselor who helps donors fulfill their passions and interests. Richard believes that successful major-gift fundraising is not fundamentally about securing revenue for good causes. Instead it is about helping donors express who they are through their giving. The Connections blog will provide practical information on how to do this successfully. Richard has more than 30 years of nonprofit leadership and fundraising experience, and is founding partner of the Veritus Group.