There have been a number of posts recently about the power and importance of donor thank you letters. Some have come from my incredible colleagues here on the Connection Cafe, especially Rachel Muir’s “7 Ways to Say Thanks” and Cheryl Black’s “Girl Scout Cookies” posts, and I have to mention yet another great article by the Agitator team reminding imploring people to test, test, test even when it comes to the thank you, but when I received this thank you update email from Charity Water, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
While I received an email thanking me at that time, their purpose was a simple update on a gift I made about 6 months prior to their Water Forward campaign. In case you’re wondering, Charity Water “invested (my) money with local partners, Relief Society of Tigray (REST) and Action Against Hunger (ACF) in Ethiopia and Pump Aid in Malawi, to build and rehabilitate freshwater wells and spring protections for people in need.” To top it off, they let me know that once the projects are complete, they’ll send a project report similar to this one informing me on the final outcome.
Color me impressed.
It reminded me of an experience I had when I was a high-schooler raising money for a community service trip to Ecuador with Amigos de las Americas. I was responsible for raising the vast majority of the total cost of the projects, so I took to letter writing, car washing, lawn mowing, baby sitting, just about whatever I could (legally) do to raise money as a 15-16 year old kid. When it was all said and done, I had a ton of thank you letters to write. I took to the seemingly overwhelming task, and if I remember correctly, finished just before the trip started.
Once home, my parents suggested that I write yet another thank you letter to update the supporters about all the latrines that were built, the toothbrushes that were distributed and all of the other accomplishments that their donation made possible. I responded as any typical teenager would by saying I didn’t have enough time and did everything I could to avoid it. After a few weeks (months?) passed, my mom responded by giving me the most memorable birthday gift of my life: a box of monogrammed stationary. It made the point and I turned around those thank you letters as quickly as possible.
So I’d be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to thank Charity Water for doing such a great job with their donor stewardship program and showing all of us how it’s done. Rather than a box of monogrammed stationery, another donation is likely to materialize in their future.