I was recently on Idealist.org, a fantastic non-profit website, and came across a couple of blog articles that their contributor Putnam Barber had written. The first, “An Easy Way to Get More Donations”, focuses on the importance and impact of a simple thank you. Although his focus is on the organization/donor relationship, I noticed that I see the results of his argument on a regular basis. I have a roommate who hates taking out the garbage, so I take it out. It’s not my favorite chore, but it doesn’t take me very long, and she is consistently grateful for my efforts. I in turn am not a fan of vacuuming and do my best to say thank you every time she cleans the floors. Although such trivial tasks, I’m sure that the both of us would slowly become annoyed with the other if we felt that those tasks became expectations or, worse yet, unappreciated. Barber makes a great point, highlighting that a small gesture can make a big difference. Donors appreciate knowing two things: where their money is going and that their contribution to the effort is recognized. So take the time to send a thank you note to appease your donors.
Last week Barber posted another entry regarding thank you notes that I think is just as important as his first. In “Want to Keep Donors Coming Back? Pay Attention” Barber raises the issue of over exposing potential/current donors. How many of us are inundated with emails from our favorite stores? Receive a coupon when you made a purchase there yesterday? If there is anything worse than not thanking someone for their gift, it would be asking for more the next week. Although automated systems can be a time-saving miracle, it can also cost you supporters. To avoid situations such as these, create rules within your system to halt solicitations to donors who have recently made a gift to your organization.
Everyone wants to be treated like a person not a number. Be attentive, say thank you, and you both retain and increase your active donors.