Say Thank-You Right And You'll Be Saying It More Often

Okay, we admit that as a kid, when we were told to write a heartfelt thank-you to our aunt for the multiple pairs of dress socks she gave us on our birthday, authentic gratitude might have been a little hard to scrape up and pass along.

But today, now that we're planned giving fundraisers, the gifts are more exciting, the stakes are higher, and the quality of the thanks we express to donors is crucial to our success.

That's why we were struck by one of the respondent comments included by Cygnus Applied Research in the executive summary of Penelope Burk's new "Where Philanthropy Is Headed in 2010" donor survey.

The survey results in general provide planned giving fundraisers with plenty to chew on, but the voice of a real donor included in the summary raises an important issue. Donor-centered fundraising is built on committed stewardship, and a critical period of stewardship begins with the thank-you. So read carefully:

"I don't need to be recognized," the donor commented, "but a sense of individual appreciation such as a personal thank-you goes a long way."

The donor is saying she is less interested in an official, corporate thank-you ("recognition") than she is in the "individual appreciation" that comes from a "personal" thank-you. So putting her on a list of donors and publishing it in your newsletter won't mean as much to her as the real heart-stuff you put into your person-to-person expression of gratitude for her giving.

The problem for some of us is, having said "thank-you" for all those unwanted dress socks over time may have blunted our ability to write (or speak) a thank-you with authentic gratitude - even when we mean it!

So if you want to brush up on fundraising thank-you theory and practice, you might surf over to Jeff Brooks' "Future Fundraising Now" blog and check out a couple of recent posts: "Tell donors they matter to keep them on board" offers some insights into donor psychology; while "How you thank your donors matters" showcases eight common errors made in thanking donors, courtesy of Sharpe Tips

(You're welcome!)