Money in. Now what ?
Updated: Jun 4
Good manners cost nothing – why it is so important to say thank you.
Have you ever done something for someone who didn’t say thank you?
I’m guessing that like me, the answer is yes. How did that make you feel?
Bad manners aren’t a nice trait and most of all, they don’t reflect well on a person. Much less on an organisation which a donor may have generously given hard-earned cash to.
If you want to build a real relationship with your donors and if you want to ensure that your reputation isn’t left in tatters, then thanking your donors, following up on their donation and feeding back on impact is imperative.
As I’ve just mentioned, not saying thank you, never looks good. But an insincere ‘thanks’ won’t cut it either if you are to maintain a healthy relationship with your donor base.
Don’t leave them hanging.
Your relationship with your donor has already begun. You are probably about two dinner dates in (keep your intentions clean – you should be in this for the long haul).
The relationship actually began when you delivered copy through a medium to them that prompted them to act and donate. Your copy, be it email, social media or a billboard – or any other communication you had with them – wooed them enough to respond by giving money to your cause. You piqued their interest and the potential for a healthy donor-charity relationship began.
Now however, with the transaction done, are you really proposing to ghost them?
Follow up with every donor.
Your campaign may be past its peak or finished completely, but you only made it to the finish line with their support. From the £1 or £2, to the major gifts, every donation no matter how small or big, was used by you and helped your cause.
You are not to know the personal circumstance of your donors so you cannot therefore assume that smaller donations don't hold as much value to your donor, as a larger gift may. That £1 or £2 may have been the last available funds they could spare. Either way, they decided to act selflessly and give and that needs recognition.
So although you may be sending communications out to potentially hundreds of donors in a rush to say thank you, you need to keep it personalised – don’t let them think you are playing the field or that you have valued another over them.
Build on your relationship.
For Muslim charities, Ramadan is now over and the need to thank your donors properly is pressing, the further we move away from Eid. For those of you raising funds for ongoing causes such as COVID19, the end may not be in sight but the need to follow up with your donors remains the same. Whether it is a short-term project or ongoing need, you will at some point need their support again.
But you can’t ask for all the money all at once, for any cause. Converting your donor from a one-off donation to a regular supporter, a direct debit, a subscription, an increased value donation or getting them on board with volunteering, should be your end-goal. This isn’t a one-night thing any more than it’s a bad romance – this should be intentions of marriage without the pre-nup or divorce.
The Relationship Pyramid
To see this through to the long-term, like most relationships, trust and communication is key.
If you think of a pyramid, your one-off new supporters are entering at the bottom in hopefully a consistent stream. You won’t be able to retain them all – but don’t let that deter you. As your supporters move up the pyramid from one-off – to a second donation – to a regular supporter – to a big gift and even to the top, to a legacy; you will lose some along the way. But that’s ok - those few strong relationships that go the distance are gold.
For your donors to trust you, you need to let them know what their money has been spent on.
Feedback as swiftly as you can, the impact of their donation. Use real people examples. Ensure regular contact through information, prompts and FAQ content that is personalised, for them to take you as genuine and not just a bit, well...grabby.
No-one likes grabby people.
So, what can you do?
Here’s some brief ideas of ways in which you can show your good manners and good intentions:
· Send a thank you email promptly after donation
· Follow it up a few weeks later or at campaign end with more information about what their support helped you to achieve.
· Send a thank you letter and brochure. Personalise the envelope and letter. Include case studies.
· Make sure you get the tone right. This is not about asking for more money – you need to make your donors feel good.
· Create and send out a welcome pack. Welcome them to your charity, let them know they are part of a team and are valued.
· Invite them to exclusive events. Ask them to attend focus groups.
· Send a copy of your Annual Review. Be honest and transparent.
· Develop newsletters, certificates or social media graphics or any other shareable online content.
Has this given you food for thought?
Check your intentions – for every action is judged by its intentions – and build those relationships. Ensure you give the time to follow up, thank your donors and build those relationships by keeping it genuine and heartfelt. You never know which of your new one-time donors could be the one to see it through to the end with you.
Need some help? If you require support with your donor comms, copy for web, email or direct mail, then drop me a line and I would be happy to write this for you. And sssh…I won’t tell your donors either. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org