Picture this: you walk to your mailbox. Inside, you find an envelope with a return address you recognize. “Real mail!” you think.
You open that envelope first and in a hurry. Then you begin to feel confused. Disappointed.
“Dear Ms. LastName” it begins.
“Because I am a caring person, I have been wondering how you are.
I have been well. In fact, I have accomplished a great deal since we last spoke. Let me tell you all about what I have been doing.
My family is doing well. In fact, our community just recognized us as upstanding citizens of the year! We all enjoyed the ceremony. And of course, my children continue to excel in school and at their sports. As for me, I recently earned a big raise. Everything is grand!
Oh and thanks very much for that nice holiday gift.”
Not so excited now, right?
I hope you never really get a letter like that from a friend. But I’ll bet you get more than a few from nonprofits you support. Formal. All about them. A hurried “oh, yeah, thanks” and a sign-off. Information about taxes front and center.
It’s not hard to write a warm, personal, grateful letter. The trick is to remember it’s not about you. It’s not about your organization. It’s all about your donor. All of it.
Now think about the personal note you hoped you would open. Friendly, warm, even chatty. You’d be eager for news. You’d want to know your friend had been thinking of you. And you would have smiled to read she remembered something nice you’d done for her. You wouldn’t have dumped the note that should have been probably right in the recycling bin. You might have tucked into your nightstand drawer with a smile. You would have pulled it out and reread it a few times, because knowing you mattered made you feel wonderful.
That’s what you need to write.
Why bother? It’s just a form letter, anyway. Just the end of a transaction, right?
No. Really, truly, no.
You’re probably reading a lot about donor retention these days. That’s good – though a lot of the most successful fundraisers knew its importance all along. It’s never too late to get on board. Because the truth is that keeping your donors is all about how you make them feel. Tell them – and show them – they’re doing something wonderful. Make them feel like they matter. Treat them like you would a good friend. Read your letter out loud. If it doesn’t sound like something you’d be excited about receiving, start again. You’ve just taken a huge step toward keeping them around.
Well worth it to give some thought to that thank you letter, isn’t it?