A few weeks ago, Russell and I visited a new church. As we were leaving the church, a church member gave us a loaf of homemade bread. What a nice welcome gift–nourishing, tasty, symbolic, thoughtful. This church did a great job of extending hospitality. We felt welcome. That’s what you want your donor to feel…
After #GivingTuesday comes #ThankUNoteWed. To honor the occasion, I thought I’d round-up some good tips, advice, examples, and suggestions to help you on your way. While there are lots of great ideas and suggestions, the two most critical pieces of advice are to acknowledge gifts promptly and personally.
I don’t know who first wrote about virtuous and vicious cycles, but gratitude, the practice of pausing to think about what we’re grateful for, is a practice that creates a virtuous one.
Study after study shows that there are innumerable benefits from “counting your blessings” or keeping a gratitude journal or simply stopping for a moment and considering what you are thankful for. Many of the rewards of reflecting on the things for which we’re thankful are results that make it easier to be thankful in the future. For example, the practice of gratitude makes us less envious and less self-centered, qualities that, arguably, make it easier for us to experience future gratitude. It is a practice that is self-reinforcing, that creates a virtuous cycle.
Early in my career, the first time I had the opportunity to interview candidates to hire a team member—a development coordinator, expanding my team—I was incredibly excited. The first candidate came to visit and talked about how her organization had figured out 7 ways to thank each of their donors. The second candidate talked about how many times they thanked their donors. The third candidate proudly reported about how they thanked all their donors 7 times.
Part of our responsibility to our donors after receiving a gift is to report back to them about what the donations they’ve entrusted to us have accomplished. We know they want to hear from us about the impact of their donations.
If we’re good at donor stewardship, we do this in multiple ways and in an ongoing fashion.
- We call our donors and say things like, “Hi! The tractors arrived on site today and started clearing for the new building and I was just thinking about you and how you’ve made this possible.”
- We invite them to our campuses and show them work in progress or programs in action.
- We meet them for coffee and bring them pictures of something that happened last week that they wanted to see.
Informally, the updates are regular.
But every once in a while, we do formal updates through Annual or Impact Reports as well. As many of us plan this time of year to write and design our Annual or Impact Report, what should it convey?
What if you could do one thing in your development program and increase your donations 600 – 800%?!!
You can! According to Adrian Sargeant and Jen Shang in a whitepaper produced by Blackbaud and Hartsook Institutes, Growing Philanthropy in the United States, 600-800% is the amount by which you can increase a donor’s lifetime value simply by converting him or her to a monthly giver.
Consider: if you’re typical donor makes a $25 or $35 check at the end of the year, you can increase his or her giving dramatically by signing them up to give $5, $10, or $15 each month instead. A monthly contributor who gives $5/month, for example, has increased their contribution 240% in one year. Now, multiply that by the number of years he or she will give.
The math is pretty simple and straight-forward so the real question is how do you get started?
The answer isn’t rocket science: Ask.