The Importance of Saying Thank-you & How to Do It the Right Way

Saying thank-you is something our parents teach us at a very young age but often companies big, small, private, public and even non-profit have difficulty with saying thank-you to partners or supporters. Of course, in the non-profit sector something as simple as a “thank-you” can go a long way.

According to market research over 60 percent of first-time donors do not make a second gift. In many cases these people are looking for something simple in return for their investment in the non-profit – a meaningful thank-you. Gallop polls suggest that donors give when they are engaged and part of that engagement involves reaching out to them to let them know that their support is appreciated.

So how can you say thank-you the right way? Some organizations that do keep up with thanking donors just aren’t really good at it. Etiquette expert, Valerio Blade says, “ A bad thank-you is sometimes worse than no thank-you at all”. Blade, who does both personal and business etiquette coaching, warns that we should never delay a thank-you. Blade advises organizations to deliver thanks soon after the donation. Also, she says double check spelling, remember to personalize your thank-you, and make the content interesting as opposed to using “boilerplate lines”. Blade contends that a sloppy, boring thank-you can really turn donors off.

Here are some other tips on how your non-profit can say “thank-you” the right way:

  • Use Greeting Cards – email or a business letter might be quick and easy, but a greeting card is more personal and shows that more thought went into the message.
  • Add an invitation – there is no better way to show you appreciate a donor than to invite them to an event without asking for money.
  • Share news – donors want to know what is happening with donations and how they are contributing in a positive way to non-profits.
  • Be creative – instead of starting with “on behalf of etc.” why not try, “We received your generous donation and wanted to share an amazing story with you”.
  • Use photos – we are visual beings so including a photo in your thank-you can have great impact.
  • Try video – recording a video message and sending it through e-mail can be captivating. Make sure it isn’t too polished otherwise it won’t seem genuine.
  • Phone calls – have a recipient/client of the non-profit phone the donor and personally say thank-you. Hearing from a person whose life have changed as a result of donations can be a wonderful feeling for the donor.

Some non-profits make the mistake of treating acknowledgments, such as a thank-you like an administrative task, rather than a vital part of the gifting process. Today, many non-profits require a solid and reliable donor base. Without that donor base some non-profits would not be able to operate. This means that developing strong relationships with donors help ensure sustainability. Doctor Adrian Sargeant is Professor of Fundraising at Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University and is an expert on donor retention. He says that the cost of retaining existing donors is “small compared to the cost of having to acquire new ones”. He insists that better communications can make a big difference in the likelihood of donors coming back.

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