The Power of a Thank-You (and Multichannel Communications)
A few weeks ago, I made a small donation — $25 — to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital through a friend's CrossFit for Hope fundraising challenge. It was a small token to support a friend and a great cause.
I made the donation via my friend's personal online fundraising page, standard practice in peer-to-peer fundraising these days. Almost instantaneously, I receive an automated e-mail acknowledgment from St. Jude thanking me for "helping the children of St. Jude." It was a short, quick e-mail and receipt.
While that is certainly a nice touch and standard best practice for online giving, I didn't think much about it, to be perfectly honest. I made a one-time gift to St. Jude to support both a friend and a good cause. I am not a recurring giver to the hospital and am not exactly residing in the prime demographic of donors.
After a few days, I actually — I'm embarrassed to say — kind of forgot what charity I had donated to. My gift was mostly prompted by a friend's request in a fitness challenge she was embarking on. But just last week, I was reminded that I had donated to St. Jude in an unexpected way: I received a thank-you direct-mail piece.
The outer envelope was a simple white envelope with St. Jude's logo and the words "Thank you!" printed in blue ink next to the address window. Inside was a small letter attached to a reply device, as well as a booklet of stickers and a "Happy Father's Day!" insert that discussed the story of 2-year-old Blake. Blake was born with Down syndrome and recently was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. The insert described how St. Jude has helped him spend another Father's Day with his dad followed by a short note from David, Blake's father, wishing me a happy Father's Day.
It was a great use of storytelling, putting a name and faces to the mission.
The short letter simply read:
"Your generous gift of $25 in June 2012 will help save the lives of St. Jude children like Hayli. [An image of Hayli, a 1-year-old with acute myeloid leukemia, appears above on the reply device — another face to go with the mission.] Your kindness and consideration mean more than you'll ever know. Thank you for caring."
Then there is a P.S. that explains the inserts:
"Please accept these labels and Father's Day card as a special token of thanks from the parents of St. Jude children. They could never thank you enough for all that you do to help St. Jude continue its mission of finding cures and saving children. On behalf of the children of St. Jude, Happy Father's Day."
While I'm not a father myself, it was perfect timing receiving it last week, with Father's Day taking place just this past weekend. The reply device not only thanked me again for my gift, but it took the opportunity to make a soft ask, with an ask string of $25, $38 and $50, following by a blank amount. It also asked for my e-mail address to receive updates.
I was so impressed by St. Jude's use of a multichannel follow-up strategy, as well as moved by the package, that I sent in another small gift. I never expected to get an offline thank-you mailing after donating online and receiving an e-mail acknowledgment.
I thought this was a great touch, and St. Jude got another gift from me. It was a simple display of the power a thank-you has, and also a great example of multichannel communications and timeliness best practices.