How to thank donors, and measure the impact of your thanking

Fundraisers are smart about asking. We test it all the time. We try big ideas and small tweaks. We fine-tune our audiences

What we don’t understand as well is thanking those donors we find and move to action.

We know from our personal lives how important follow-up is. What you do after the gift or event is what sets the direction of the relationship.

It’s quite likely it’s the same in fundraising.

Katya’s Nonprofit Marketing Blog gives us some ways of thanking that will most likely improve the donor relationship, at The 10 vital rules of thanking, pleasing and keeping donors:


  1. Know your donor
  2. Always thank your donors
  3. Thank them early
  4. Thank them often
  5. Thank them accurately
  6. Express gratitude
  7. Focus on emotion
  8. Give the donor credit
  9. Be specific about impact
  10. Make it personal

The smartest thing would be to test these (and other) thanking techniques. Since a simple response test, like we do when we test our asking, can’t measure success, you have to track what donor do in the 12 months after you test something. A successful thanking technique would result in better retention, higher cumulative giving, or other desirable behaviors. An unsuccessful one would have no impact, or possibly a negative impact.


Comments

2 responses to “How to thank donors, and measure the impact of your thanking”

  1. This is a very interestingly timed post. I am working with a client to transition over to a new donor database system and we’re customizing the fields to meet their needs. Some of the things I want them to be able to track are the different types of donor appreciation contacts each supporter receives for their gifts – a “thank you” call, a handwritten notecard, etc. And – as you mentioned – I want the information to be recorded in such a way that it can be analyzed alongside giving to measure impact.
    Are people who receive “thank you” calls giving more six months later than those who didn’t? Are the results different if the caller spoke with the donor directly to thank them vs leaving a voicemail? What about the ED calling vs a board member? How does the time between receipt of gift and making the call impact things? Etc. Etc. Etc.
    What’s striking to me is that databases are not set up to track this kind of information. In fact, the person assigned to work with us on screen set-up has no idea how to do this and needs to talk with tech support, the help dept, the programmers, to figure out how to set up the system and add the appropriate fields in order to meet our needs.
    So I took two related thoughts away from this meeting earlier today. One, databases aren’t set up to allow us to easily track and measure this data. And, two, very, very few nonprofits are asking for this type of functionality.

  2. This is a very interestingly timed post. I am working with a client to transition over to a new donor database system and we’re customizing the fields to meet their needs. Some of the things I want them to be able to track are the different types of donor appreciation contacts each supporter receives for their gifts – a “thank you” call, a handwritten notecard, etc. And – as you mentioned – I want the information to be recorded in such a way that it can be analyzed alongside giving to measure impact.
    Are people who receive “thank you” calls giving more six months later than those who didn’t? Are the results different if the caller spoke with the donor directly to thank them vs leaving a voicemail? What about the ED calling vs a board member? How does the time between receipt of gift and making the call impact things? Etc. Etc. Etc.
    What’s striking to me is that databases are not set up to track this kind of information. In fact, the person assigned to work with us on screen set-up has no idea how to do this and needs to talk with tech support, the help dept, the programmers, to figure out how to set up the system and add the appropriate fields in order to meet our needs.
    So I took two related thoughts away from this meeting earlier today. One, databases aren’t set up to allow us to easily track and measure this data. And, two, very, very few nonprofits are asking for this type of functionality.

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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