I’ve written a few times about poorly done thanks or solicitations, so I wanted to write about a thank you we recently received that did it right.
But instead of my response, let me offer my husband’s. He’s not a fundraiser so he’s probably a better mirror for how most donors react. (In other words, he’s not me, standing over the mail most days, shaking my head.)
The biggest and most surprising thing they got right was timing. We wrote a check on Sunday and mailed it Monday. The acknowledgement was in Friday’s mail. My husband was sure it had to be for an earlier gift. He was amazed that we’d been thanked so quickly.
And isn’t that a sad commentary about how we’ve lowered donors’ expectations?
If you’re like me, you had a grandmother who expected a thank you note for your gifts. And, if you’re like me, as a kid you often fell pretty far from the mark. (I’ll admit that my own kids aren’t that much better – at least not without prompting.)
But Grandma had it right. There’s nothing like hearing (or reading) “thank you!” while the gift-giving is still fresh in your mind. Once too much time passes, a thank you letter is just another piece of paper for the tax file. A prompt response really makes an impression. It meant the organization was in our thoughts much longer than the moment it took to write a check.
We feel good and they win.
The letter’s not quite perfect. (You didn’t think I could resist, did you?) I’d change the perspective a little and give more credit to the donor. They do add a nice testimonial and paint a picture of what they do – but I’d connect that directly to the gift. It would be much more powerful.
The last paragraph mentions a big anniversary and how they’ll be celebrating. We’re invited to join via their website or Facebook. But the way it’s phrased doesn’t work for me. It feels as if there will be a party going on and we can stand to the side and watch it. That’s easily fixed, though.
Look, I’m not perfect either. In fact, right now I’m not living up to my own standards. We’ve all got issues that get in the way of doing this perfectly. But this organization reminds us that it can be done well.
And I think Grandma knows why.
Think about why she gave you that gift. Chances are it wasn’t because she had to. Chances are it made her feel happy to think about you feeling happy. And when you called or wrote to say thank you, you let her share your happiness. She wasn’t on the sidelines; she was right there with you. For you, it was a toy. For Grandma, your happiness was priceless.
Let’s work on treating our donors to that kind of happiness.