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The Power of “Thank You”

Do you stop to think how you thank? Thinking about thanking is time well spent. Talking it over with staff and your development committee helps get ideas on the table. Attending a session on “donor acknowledgment” at the next nonprofit conference you attend is time well spent. Learn what others are doing. Apply thanking techniques that feel right, that fit right for you and staff and volunteers who get the relationship part of fundraising.
Here are a few things to pause and reflect:
Thank all your donors.
“Tier” your thank you: post card for small gifts, letter for gifts $25+. Set tiers that make sense for your nonprofit.
Acknowledge online gifts with email.
Use appropriate stationery to acknowledge memorial gifts.
Use special thank you for special gifts from special givers. Organize a board “thankathon” (see Kay Sprinkel Grace in High Impact Philanthropy) for special/major gifts.
The important thing is to let the donor know that s/he is appreciated. That it’s more than the money. Confirm the relationship by letting the person know you remember something about him/her; how the gift will help those you serve in some specific way. Help make a link happen. Cement the bond.
I remember when I worked with the American Lung Association in New Hampshire, board members agreed to thank major donors to the Christmas Seal campaign. They called donors. The first year we did it, some donors thought we were calling for more money. Board members were coached to let donors know, “no, we just want to let you know how much we appreciate your recent gift of ___ to help fight lung disease. We are interested, if you care to share, in what inspires you to give. It helps us to know.” Well. Our donors were pleasantly surprised to get the personal touch and usually had something to tell us.
In this way, the “thank you” helps confirm the relationship.

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One Response to “The Power of “Thank You””

  • Thanks for your response to my post on “Thank You,” Lisa. I think one mark of a successful and effective nonprofit organization is how it communicates with its donors. I’m working with a group in NH now that will host an event celebrating their 40th anniversary, and will invite donors to a reception to thank them and have them meet some clients who’ve benefited from their support. It won’t be a costly event. But I think the purpose will be clear to all. It’s thanking as a way to strengthen the relationship.

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