Appreciation is the foundation of donor retention. Communicating gratitude assures donors that you value them as an important part of your team. Saying “thank you” is more than just good manners. It generates goodwill and enthusiasm, and it motivates donors to spread positive word-of-mouth about your organization and the work you’re accomplishing together. As a bonus, well-communicated gratitude often results in additional gifts.
You know saying thank you is important, but how often should you say it? (Answer: Whenever possible.) Can you actually thank a donor too much? (Answer: No!)
The frequency of your thank yous will depend on the gift and donor type, but there are six key points in time that are ideal for expressing gratitude.
1) Accompanying the Receipt
Get the gratitude started immediately by adding a short “Thank you for your donation” along with your receipt. Then, follow up with a more personalized thank you. Use your donor management system (DMS) to add brief notes to automated receipts, and take advantage of this opportunity.
2) Within a Week of Receiving the Gift
A few days after you receive a gift is the time for a detailed thank you that references the project, program, or community that’s benefiting from the donation. Within 24 hours is ideal, but definitely send your thank you within a week of the gift. This first impression will set the tone for your ongoing relationship with the donor. The thank you letter process can be streamlined with a template providing a customizable framework that can be personalized for each donor group. Don’t hesitate to include a call to share the mission with friends or family. With your DMS, the thank you letter process is simple. You can also use your DMS to create reminders so no donor ever falls through the cracks.
Click here for a demonstration of just how easy it is to acknowledge donors with Network for Good:
3) The Anniversary of the Gift
A year after a large gift or a first gift is received is a perfect time to thank your donor again. Updating the donor on the work they made possible and reiterating your gratitude will remind donors about the mission they care about and may even prompt another gift.
4) Upon Completion of the Project or Campaign
Sending another thank you at a project milestone or after a campaign is finished is a great time to communicate how the gift was used. Expressing your gratitude at this point will be inspiring, since it will be accompanied by a sense of team accomplishment.
5) On a Meaningful Holiday
If you track which holidays your donors celebrate in your donor profiles, sending a thank you on special holidays communicates gratitude with a personal touch. These thank yous are special, because they demonstrate that you take the time to communicate directly with each donor.
You can set up reminders in your DMS to notify you in advance of these holidays so you won’t forget to send the thank yous. (You can also assign the task to either yourself or a team member.)
The end of the year provides a wonderful opportunity to say thank you because it’s the time of year when the most donations are given. Donors are typically making decisions about charitable gifts at this time, so a thank you will serve as an expression of gratitude and a reminder about the partnership they’ve enjoyed with you during the year. A thank you at this time may prompt them to continue the partnership.
Learn more about how to improve your thank yous with our 10 Creative Ways to Thank Donors guide. Find out what makes a thank you meaningful to a donor, what to avoid in a thank you, and when to say thank you.
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