The Best Thank You I Never Got

A good thank you does more than set up your next ask. It’s the key to retaining and upgrading your donors.

Here’s 5 reasons why you need to invest in crafting killer thank you, a winning thank you example, and a guide for how to craft yours.

5 Reasons to Craft a Killer Thank You

  1. Your donor retention rate, like your peers, is probably terrible. Investing in a great thank you will increase the likelihood your donors give again.
  2. Your donors are under giving with their first gift. A killer thank you ups the odds they’ll give more.
  3. Donors define over-solicitation not by an excessive number of appeals but by being asked to give again before they knew their first gift had an impact (hyperlink source). The simple fundraising formula is this: Ask. Thank. Report back. Just like the instructions on your shampoo bottle: Lather. Rinse. Repeat. A donor’s gift is unfinished business until you thank them.
  4. This is your chance to stand out and be unforgettable! Your peers are likely sending uninspired tax receipt letters that put their donors to sleep with the first sentence, “On behalf of the staff, board and volunteers of XYZ organization…” Even worse, they may be using an uninspiring email autoresponder. The receipt tells them you got the gift. The thank you tell them why it mattered.
  5. Your donors WANT THIS. And since you’re donor centered, you’re going to give them what they want.

Free Resource: Stewardship Template

There are 1.6 million nonprofit organizations in the United States. Your donor chose to give to YOU! It’s time to make them feel celebrated.

But how?

Create a baseline plan to make every donor feel heroic with simple business rules to ensure you thank and report back to all your donors before soliciting another gift. Your baseline plan can include meaningful thank you notes, thank you phone calls from board members, and program updates.

On top of these fundamentals, practice random acts of thankfulness: calling or writing the donor to share your appreciation on Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, and the anniversary of their gift.

Here’s a fantastic stewardship template to get you started.

The Best Thank You I Never Got

Here’s my favorite fictitious thank you card that I like to pretend I might get if I donated to the Ann Richards School for Young Women leaders:

“Dear Rachel- The screams and squeals from the girls were positively deafening when they found out that, thanks to your generous support, they were going to get to tour the nation’s capital. Thank you!”

It’s descriptive. It takes me right to the center of the action, supporting the beneficiaries I care about.

Don’t view stewardship as a cost center. It’s a revenue center. It’s the key to retaining and upgrading your donors. What are you waiting for?

To quote Dr. Seuss, “Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way!”

Rachel Muir, CFRE is Vice President of Training at Pursuant where she transforms individuals into confident, successful fundraisers through classroom, custom and online training.
When she was 26 years old, Rachel Muir launched Girlstart, a non-profit organization to empower girls in math, science, engineering and technology in the living room of her apartment with $500 and a credit card.  Several years later she had raised over 10 million dollars and was featured on Oprah, CNN, and the Today show.
John Haydon