You’ve been told by your mother, no doubt, about the importance of saying “thank you.” Of course it’s polite; however, it is also an extremely valuable tool in fundraising. I’m about to tell you the secret to becoming a professional fundraiser, and it’s as simple as two words.
Expressing your gratitude to donors is important because you should let them know how much their support means, no matter the dollar amount. I’ve been given donations for various events ranging from $10-$1000, and every single donation has meant the world to me. It means that someone has taken time out of their day to invest in something I believe in fighting for. That deserves some gratitude. It’s important to be creative and original when thanking donors – they will remember something personal a lot more than the generic emails most online servers send out automatically. Here are a few ideas:
- Handwritten Letters
Trust me on this one. People love to receive handwritten thank you letters as long as you actually take the time to say something worth saying. Why bother with just “Dear Aunt Mae, thanks so much for the donation! See you soon”? Take up the whole card and thank Aunt Mae for donating on behalf of Uncle Albert, and tell her that during your 75-mile bike ride, you’re going to be thinking about him and how he took you for bubble gum ice cream as a kid. Good fundraising is really about a mutual exchange of support.
- Thank you videos
Viral expressions of gratitude can be a lot of fun! Use your phone to record a video thanking a friend for donating. It will be even better if you’re doing something funny or wearing a silly outfit. You can easily upload these to YouTube and post them on a friend’s Facebook or Twitter page. Not only will your friend appreciate you taking the time to make them a video, it’s great publicity for your fundraising as well! Check out this example to have fun with this.
- Gratitude should never stop
It’s important to thank donors, in a meaningful way, because they are going to feel valued and appreciated and thus more likely to donate to you in the future. I call this “Donor Network Maintenance.” Basically the idea is that you should always take care of your network. Sending holiday cards and personal touches throughout the year is a great way to show donors that your gratitude did not end after your event. I fundraised over $6,500 last summer, so during the holidays, I sent postcards with pictures from the event to remind my network of how grateful I am.
The bottom line is that people donate to people. You can have the greatest cause on the planet, but if you are not able to make your ask personal, no one is going to connect or feel moved to donate. Your expressions of appreciation should reflect this, and they should not stop once the donate button has been clicked. You’ve got to learn the art of saying “thank you” because it’s the secret to fundraising super powers.
And because your mom is always right.
Here’s an alternative thank you video link.