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Downes Murray International News

The best little phrase in any language: Thank you! Dankie! Siyabonga!

One of the surest ways to ensure your fundraising programme's long-term success is to make sure you thank your donors – promptly, sincerely and often.  Copywriter Denise Murray gives you some tips on how you can enhance your thanking procedures.
Times are tough.  Not only in our own little patch of the globe, but right round the world.  Despite all the doom and gloom, life goes on.  And we still have to raise money for the causes that serve life, in all its forms.
So it’s not surprising that right now, fundraisers under pressure are looking at their programmes, and asking themselves how they can bring in more and spend less.  At trustee, board and committee level, various strategies will be put up for consideration.  But one of the most alarming of these is ‘cutting back on the thanking programme to reduce costs’.
Big mistake!
To keep your fundraising alive, well and growing – at any time – you can never thank too many people too often. But it’s in the tough times that thanking really comes into its own.
Why?  Because tough times don’t only affect non-profits.  They also affect ordinary people –your donors – and often badly.  So when they give to you during an economic downturn, they deserve to be thanked more, not less.
And the very worst thing you can do is not thank them at all.  One of life’s mysteries is why some nonprofit organisations feel so little responsibility towards their donors, and so little appreciation for their generosity, that they will treat them both insensitively and discourteously.
But one of life’s joys is how others celebrate their donors’ commitment by saying ‘thank you’, again and again and again, in the following ways:

  • Never missing a single opportunity to thank.
  • The thank you letter (not just a compliment slip or e-mail) mentions the amount of the donation and what it was given for.
  • Once a year, sending an extra thank you to donors for their cumulative amount given.
  • Using newsletter report-back articles to stress that success stories are thanks to the donor’s involvement.
  • Sending birthday/seasonal greetings as an extension to the thank you.
  • Being extra sensitive towards small donors. For people who are elderly, on low or fixed incomes, giving means sacrifice, which should be acknowledged with great respect and appreciation.  Property or possessions could make them a bequest prospect. 
  • Picking up on loneliness.  A little caring attention by way of a reply to their letter means so much.  A donor who has nobody to care about them, could well remember your organisation's kindness in his or her Will. 
  • Passing the test with big donors.  Someone with a lot of money to give will often put a toe in the water first.  How much follows, often hangs on the organisation’s response. 
  • Picking up the telephone.  Certainly, another cost.  But the fact that you took the time and trouble to call in a special instance – this will be remembered.
  • In response to a world or national event, sending out a ‘thinking of you’ mailing that doesn’t ask for money.
  • Apologising when necessary – and adding specific or blanket thanks.
  • Reading beyond the amount and thanking accordingly (e.g. – taking note that a one-off big donation perhaps comes from a windfall or a donor’s savings).
  • Finding ways to sing the donor’s praises.
  • Being open to giving back.  (Encouraging donor visits, inviting them to special events, offering information, prayers or anything else that may be useful or helpful to donors.)
  • Occasionally sending a small (inexpensive but meaningful) gift of appreciation.
  • Finding, and using, ever new ways of saying ‘thank you’!
Please, don’t cut costs at the expense of saying ‘thank you’ because thanking always pays back.

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