For good things once a year is not enough. Why do so many of us only eat turkey once a year? Or pumpkin pie? I’ve no idea! It’s surely not rational. These are special foods we value and take great delight in. Yet we get into a bad habit of thinking on auto pilot. If it’s not Thanksgiving, the idea of roasting a turkey or making cranberry sauce doesn’t even enter most or our heads. Why are we missing out on an opportunity for greater joy and satisfaction?
Don’t do this with your valued supporters!
It’s not rational to thank your donors only annually. They keep you going all year long. They deserve your gratitude all year long as well.
What better time to thank supporters than today, after a holiday filled with gratitude?
Seriously, I’m not kidding. Today! (Or early next week works swell).
Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) is over. There’s a natural let-down for many. Wouldn’t it be lovely for your donors and volunteers to get a call from their favorite charity? A call that simply expresses gratitude?
“Joe, how was your holiday? I just called because in thinking over the week-end about all for which I’m grateful, I realized I’m grateful for you and all you do to make our community a more caring place. I just wanted you to know how much your support is appreciated. Thanks(for)giving.”
My hunch is there’s nothing better you could do with your time today. Or early next week if you’re taking some personal (or shopping the sales?) time today.
All the “strategies” in the world can’t substitute for a genuine, personal connection that comes from the heart.
Connect! Express your thanks! Don’t let weeks and months go by. Don’t wait until you’ve got a perfectly crafted letter, email or insert piece. That’s called procrastination, or “letting perfect be the enemy of the good.” Sometimes, timing is everything.
Do it now, because life’s blessings are short – both for you and for your donor. The one thing I most regret in my life as a development professional is not spending more time connecting personally with donors.
True Confession: Once I was engaged in a long (seriously, it was over an hour) phone conversation with a supporter who was a Holocaust survivor. She was telling me a harrowing story of escape from a concentration camp. Riveting for me; cathartic for her. Yet at a point where she was still in danger in the story, I thought I had to cut the call short to join a staff meeting. Did I really have to? At the very least, I should have called her back. I didn’t. She passed away; I never learned the end of the story. I haven’t quite forgiven myself to this day.
To help your donor feel connected requires you to connect as well.
Join your donor’s story
Research shows when we enter into a story world our thinking is altered
. So, swap stories. Listen. Share. Become an important part of your donor’s life. It’s really the only sure way to have your donor become a part of the life of your organization. And aside from a benefit to your charity, it also enriches your own life.
Connected donors are giving donors.
A Donor Perspectives Study
from Blackbaud found charities that meet donors’ needs have the greatest success. Study after study
shows how very important it is to establish an emotional connection with supporters.
So take the opportunity to connect NOW, while we’re all still thinking about gratitude. Even if you’ve thanked your donor before, it’s not enough. Thanking folks throughout the year is not redundant. In fact, you have to thank donors several times. A form letter or receipt isn’t sufficient. You must find ways to explain the difference the donor has made, and to reassure them over time their gift had a meaningful impact. And, in this regard, it’s better to be specific because this is a lot more personal and meaningful:
“Joe, I wanted you to know that the last gift you made helped us reach our goal to establish the ______ program. I got a letter from someone in that program last week, and wondered if you might like me to read it to you?” [or, if you get a voicemail, tell them you’re going to send a copy to them].
Donors need to hear from you about their impact. They need to hear this because it’s the very reason your donor is involved. And chances are your donor is also grateful to you for all your nonprofit is accomplishing. Your call may even prompt them to tell you a story or two while they have you on the phone. You never know what you may learn!
A thank you call is exceptionally powerful.
There may be only one day a year (at least in the U.S.) devoted to giving thanks. But expressing thanks year round, and doing it consistently and well, is one of the most profitable strategies you can have. Don’t waste this chance. Don’t blow it. If you need a little help on what to say, grab my free Donor Thank You Calls E-Book + Script
And if you need help rocking gratitude all year round — something that will improve your donor retention by leaps and bounds — check out my How to Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude and Keep Your Donors E-Guide
. You’ll get 130 jam-packed pages, including the ‘Creative Ways to Thank Your Donors’ E-Book –
with more than 70 specific ideas for you to steal!
Take an hour or two TODAY and make thank you calls. Try to do at least six calls. Do it again tomorrow. And the next day — while gratitude is still fresh on everyone’s minds.
Consider who you should call given limited resources. If you can’t call everyone you think you should, delegate some calls to others you believe your donors would appreciate hearing from (your E.D.? Board president? A program director?)
Here are some ideas of who you might call:
- Major donors (never take these folks for granted, especially if they haven’t given yet this calendar year)
- Mid-level donors (these folks often get overlooked, and many might be persuaded to make larger gifts if they felt more valued and connected. This is a cohort of supporters where a lot of money gets left on the table due to insufficient intentional, personal relationship building)
- Volunteers and/or program participants who also donate money (these folks have a lot of skin in the game; they’re often candidates for legacy gifts if you keep them close)
Photo by Řaj Vaishnaw on Pexels