Thank you: say it like you mean it

For many, this is the season of giving. Buying gifts for friends and family. Dropping off toys, food, and clothing at local food banks and churches for those in need. Volunteering our time serving others. Donating to organizations we care about. We’re in the giving mood.  

We give because we want to be generous with the blessings we’ve been given. We want others to be happy, fed, clothed, and cared for. We give without expecting anything in return. The sheer joy of giving is enough.

But…we all like to be thanked. Being thanked isn’t a precursor for our giving, but if we’re being honest, we probably notice who did and didn’t say thank you. And for some, that gratitude, or lack thereof, impacts future generosity. 

As we run around in these final weeks of the year, some of the biggest giving weeks to nonprofits, let us not forget to be intentionally thankful. 

Be thankful for your donors. Thanking donors is table stakes in this fundraising game. Donors are giving their resources to support your ministry. It is so important to thank them and to do so effectively. 

Here are four ways to make sure you are thanking donors well:

  1. Ensure data entry and gift processing are happening daily — volunteers, temporary staff, and caging companies can all help with this. Quick receipting is one of the most impactful tactics when looking at donor retention and 2nd gift conversion rates.
  1. Make sure your receipts are timely and relevant. Copy should be specific to the gift and share the impact the donor has made. Mailed receipts should be sent within 48 hours of receiving a gift. For online donations, ensure a thank you email is sent the same day and includes a story of impact.
  1. Get your thank you notes in the mail before the next appeal hits. I know we’re all looking for ways to reduce costs — postage on thank you receipts is not one of those places. Get those thank-yous out the door. First class rate helps ensure donors get thanked before they get the next appeal in their mailbox. 
  1. Leverage receipts as an opportunity to give again. Thank you letters and receipts provide a great avenue for donors to give again — make sure to include a response device and return envelope.

While we are thinking about thanking donors, let’s keep the gratitude going. It’s a busy season for everyone, take time out to thank your teams — especially the donation processing and donor services teams whose work enables your organization to be more effective in thanking donors! 

Take time out of your day (maybe even right now) to write a thank you note to a coworker, an agency partner, or a donor. Someone you are thankful for. Nothing beats a handwritten note of thanks. Pause and reflect on the things they have done over the past year, grab a pen and a piece of paper and tell them, specifically, why you are thankful for them. I’ll be doing the same.