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Nonprofit Excellence in Fundraising
Built upon the success of the best-selling “Nonprofit Management 101,” this easy to digest book provides practical, comprehensive guidance for nonprofit fundraising around the globe. With tips and tools, expert advice, and real-world insights from almost fifty industry leaders, this robust resource addresses the entire spectrum of fundraising for nonprofits, including: Planning, hiring, and tracking progress Individual donors, major gifts, events, and direct mail Board and volunteer engagement Foundation and government grants Corporate partnerships Online and email fundraising.
Advice from the Expert
The Magic and Reality of Gratitude
By Lilya Wagner
Sometimes it seems that we live in a world where a simple Thank You is a rare and cherished phrase! It also seems, at times, that the more means we have by which to communicate, the less we do. Which brings me to the point—what is the importance of a quick, speedy and appropriate “thank you” when we’re communicating with donors?
The 2012 Fundraising Effectiveness Survey that was done by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) reported a 59% donor attrition each year. This means that six out of ten donors will drop out of your organization’s giving pool. This has a major impact on an organization’s income, and one of the various reasons why people stop giving is because of how the organization treats them! And that includes how we express our gratitude to our donors, which is part of the entire scenario regarding donor retention.
At times I have given to organizations and have had to actually contact its personnel in order to receive a receipt. Sometimes I have waited a month before I get a thank you note by e-mail. It’s not uncommon to get an acknowledgement note or letter that clearly is from a template, and leaves me to wonder just how important I am to that organization. Maybe it’s time to examine how we can adapt and adopt the principles of “donor centered fundraising” and create a culture not just FOR philanthropy but a culture of gratitude! Below are some suggestions. But before I launch into those, I want to share a case study of the best in communicating gratitude.
I have been fortunate to be associated with whom I call “the world’s best travel agent” for about a dozen years. Our communication is almost entirely by e-mail, with an occasional phone call thrown in. The more Michael Christopher helped me with my many and convoluted travels, the more I appreciated him and wanted to do something for him. I found out he collects little souvenir boxes, and I am now in the habit of bringing him some from my various travels. I do this out of gratitude, but my sense of satisfaction is greatly enhanced by his prompt and delightful thank you notes. Here’s a sample—
Hi again, Lilya…
The box of boxes has arrived! Just opened it and what a delight to see them in person after looking at the preview pix you’d sent.
I love that they are all so different, in material/style/color/etc. I am always astounded at the fine craftsmanship behind the wonderful look and feel of each. From the beading atop the Kenyan box, to the ornate silver etching all around the Toronto box, I am amazed at such detailed work these must have taken to create.
Please know they will all be valued additions to my collection and I thank you once again for your ever thoughtfulness in thinking of me during your travels.
My satisfaction in giving has been multiplied by his gratitude! What if we followed his example and wrote such immediate and carefully crafted thanks to our donors?!
I ran across a website, https://www.networkforgood.com/nonprofitblog/importance-thank-creating-attitude-gratitude/, which shared a number of great ideas that I’m copying below. I would encourage you to look at the entire article and move ahead with a vastly improved, exciting, appropriate thank you program by which you maintain donor loyalty and share the joy of giving and receiving!
To create an ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE, consider the good ole’ fashion 5Ws and an H:
- Who is involved in each step of the thank you process?
- Invite board members into the thank you process. Thank them first and recognize their gifts and role as huge supporters of your organization.
- Prepare thank you note cards at board meetings with notes about the donor. Also, ask board members to write, or at least sign, several notes OR better yet, make phone calls, thanking the donors before the meeting officially begins.
- What is your gift acknowledgment policy?
- What happens from the moment the gift arrives?
- Does the gift amount determine the speed of acknowledgment, who the ‘thanker’ is, or the method of thanking?
- When is each donor thanked?
- Is a donor thanked at any time besides in the gift acknowledgment letter or the next ask?
- Where are donors thanked?
- Develop quirky, unexpected, and fun ways to surprise donors:
- Decide 3-4 extra “thanks-4-giving” times per year. From Valentine’s Day to your organization’s anniversary to the donor’s birthday, there’s lots of opportunities to show your gratitude.
- Post a daily/weekly/monthly (depending on the volume of donors) social media “shout-out” that highlights specific donors.
The famed theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.” I encourage you to enrich both your donors and your organization by creating the best possible and timely thank you process! And in closing, I repeat what John F. Kennedy once said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
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