The number one reason that donors stop supporting a nonprofit is the way they were treated by the nonprofit. They complain about lack of thank-yous and reporting on the difference they made. You need a great acknowledgement plan. Your gratitude helps bond a donor to your cause. It’s good fundraising practice, not to mention good manners. Here are the top 10 tips for helping you become great at gratitude:
1. KNOW YOUR DONOR: Capture information on how your donors gave and what appeal they are supporting. Did they give in response to a special appeal or at an event? Were they asked to donate by a donor champion who was running a race to raise money for your cause? You need these details to properly thank and cultivate them.
2. ALWAYS THANK YOUR DONORS: Always. No exceptions.
3. THANK THEM EARLY: You should thank your donors within a few days of their gift.
4. THANK THEM OFTEN: Thank your donors several times, over time, and keep reporting back on the difference they have made.
5. THANK THEM ACCURATELY: Make sure you have correctly spelled the donors name, stated the amount and date of the donation, included appropriate language on tax deductibility and carefully note if the gift was made in honor of someone else.
6. EXPRESS GRATITUDE: Say how pleased and thankful you were to get the donation.
7. FOCUS ON EMOTION: Tell a short, wonderful story or use a specific example that shows what the donor is making possible. This is important so all donors feel great – and donors new to your cause grasp what it really means. You want to tug at the heartstrings and bring your mission to life. Some fun ideas: Take photos of your work and slip one of those into a mailed card. Have a beneficiary write the thank-you email.
8. GIVE THE DONOR CREDIT: Your communications to your donors should use the word “you” a lot more than the word “we.” Give your donors credit for what you do in every piece of outreach. Be constantly on the lookout for ways to recognize your donors – in your annual report, on your website and at your events.
9. BE SPECIFIC ABOUT IMPACT: Make very clear how you will use the money and tie that impact back to the solicitation that was sent. If you sent an appeal to save puppies, talk about how many puppies you will save!
10. MAKE IT PERSONAL: In addition to addressing the donor by name, you want to sign the appeal from a real person. No “dear friend” or “dear supporter” salutations and no nameless signatories! We recommend you get creative with who “signs” your electronic and mailed letters – a board member, a volunteer or beneficiary can add significance to your acknowledgement.