I don’t know about you, but I grew up in a house that really prioritized thank you notes. There were other things that were stressed, but I think writing thank you notes was one of the most important lessons that my mom instilled in us. She made writing thank you notes enjoyable—good note cards, fun pens, festive stamps. And she also saved the particularly nice or well written or beautiful thank you notes she received.
I think there is a great lesson that non-profits can learn from my mom (well, there are many lessons you can learn from her, but this one is particularly fitting). If someone makes a donation of time or money to your organization, you should send a thank you note.
- Consider asking board members to write thank you notes (yes, this is the online marketing and fundraiser in me suggesting handwritten notes sent offline) to major donors, sustaining donors, or first time donors.
- Set aside 20 minutes during your next board meeting and supply the names and mailing addresses of folks who would be a good fit for a handwritten note. I received one from another organization last month and was so pleased that there was no ask in the note, just a plain and simple thank you. This really stuck with me.
- Make sure your donation auto-responder is alive and well. Double check that it is visually pleasing, and provides an overview of what will be done with a donation. Make your overview tangible and very specific (“We’ll serve 71 guests dinner with your gift.”)
- Consider the timeline of your note. Use the one year anniversary of someone becoming a sustaining donor to thank them, or perhaps sending them an e-card thank you note on their birthday.
- Thank people over social media! If an organization gives an in kind gift, tag the group in a photo or tweet. If someone becomes a sustaining donor or a first time donor, ask to tag them and put a real face on the people who are helping to support your organization.