The simple "Thank You Note" is a work horse of the direct mail world. People love to hear the words "thank you", especially if they have given a gift. Since you're in the fundraising business, "thank you" is all that your donors expect in return. Make sure that you do it well. A thoughtful thank you note helps build the relationship between your donor and your mission.
Thanking your donors can also be a source of new revenue. As if the words "thank you" have miraculous powers, people who get a thank you note will often take use the enclosed business reply envelope (no postage necessary if mailed in the US), write another check, and send it back right away.
Thanking your donors should be a part of all of your fundraising activities. Sending out real, honest to goodness, thank you notes should be a permanent part of your direct mail program. It's inexpensive, because you only have to mail people who have already given. And the impact it can have on your revenue generation and donor retention is just marvelous.
How often should you give thanks?
Managing your thank you's depends on the size of your fundraising team. You should be sending out thank you notes at least once a week. This is frequently enough that your response feels prompt to donors. For larger direct mail programs, thank yous should go out no later than two or three days after the donation is processed.
If you plan to mail thank you notes every Thursday, for instance, be sure you include all of the donations from the previous week. When you get behind the ball, you'll find it hard to catch up. If you're struggling to keep up, you might need to enlist some help.
Volunteers can give thanks
If you're a new and small organization, you might be able to manage the thank you's by yourself. The more donations you get, the more difficult it will be to handle alone. This is not a bad thing, but an opportunity.
Stuffing thank you notes is a great volunteer opportunity. It doesn't require a lot of heavy lifting, has a definite process that is easy to follow, and is fun for volunteers.
The food bank has a group of volunteers we call "the letter ladies." They are the backbone of our direct mail program. For years, they have been coming in once a week to stuff all of the thank you notes. We couldn't do it without them.
What tools do you need?
The basic tools that you need to send you notes are the following:
- Personalized thank you notes. Even the smallest organization can do personalized thank you notes. Nobody should be sending out letter that starts out with "Dear friends." All you need to do is output names from your donor database and use them to create a mail merge that has a personalized greeting. You do need to go through the list of letters to proof read them. You can also include the amount donated, which looks very good in the eyes of the donor. In this case, your thank you note can serve as a tax receipt.
- Letter Template. You don't have to recreate the wheel every week. You can use a basic letter template that you modify slightly every month or so. The key for your letter template is that you need to express genuine, heartfelt thanks for your donor's support. Throw in a story about the impact that the gift will make and you're off to the races.
- Business reply envelope. Every thank you note should include a response device. It doesn't have to be as complicated or ornate as the envelopes you send with your direct mail campaigns. A pre-addressed, no-postage-necessary envelope will do just fine. Yes, it's an "ask," but it's a subtle one. You'll be surprised by how many people decide to give again if you make it easy for them.
Give thanks with a joyful heart
Sending thank you notes should not just be another administrative burden. It's an opportunity to rejoice in the generosity of your donors. Your organization doesn't exist, your mission isn't fulfilled without their help. Share the joy that their gift brings by saying thank you promptly, regularly, and sincerely.
Would you like to learn more about raising money for Church and Ministry? Check out Letters From The Almoner, now available on Amazon.com.
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