Great article by @bharatir No Small Change on annoying donors with bad thank you letters!
Originally posted on No Small Change:
This festive season we saw more than our usual share of thank you letters. Apart from the number, though, little had changed with thank you letters since 2001, when I started working with non-profits.
So we tried to get into the heads of people whose job it is to write thank you letters and understand why they write what they write. Here’s what we found:
1. “Dear friend/ Dear donor,”
Inside the letter-writer’s head (LWH): There’s your first clue to how much we care about you. We haven’t bothered to find out your first name. Even if we do know, we don’t care enough to do a mail-merge or even scribble your name in.
2. “Thank you for your donation.”
LWH: It’s Monday morning and I don’t have the time to get creative. Never mind that you’ve got 27 other thank you letters that all started the same way. And…
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As fundraising professionals we must ask for money, employ strategy, use leverage tactics, focus on retaining donors and aim to generate maximum revenue.We steward, cultivate, educate, solicit.
Donors on the other hand are feeling and living the giving experience. They want to save lives, make a difference, change the world. Donors give because they care, or have been moved or inspired in some way. How much they give, how often they give, whether they give just once or for the long term mostly comes down to how they feel about your cause and how they feel about the experience they’re having as donors. Fundamentally donors want to do good, to know they’ve done good and they want to feel good.
Focus on the relationship, with mutual affection and respect.
Be easy to like and easy to be around.
Show your donor that you can be trusted.
Be open about what what a donation would achieve.
Remain a friend after the donation is made; stewardship is key.
Remember it is all about your donor, not about you.
(1) Belief in the mission of the organization (your service and how you touch lives) and
(2) confidence in your future vision were rated “important” and “very important” by everyone.
It’s my responsibility as a Board member was ranked “important” by virtually everyone— but of interest, very few rated it as “very important.” (Where are we failing in letting board members know it is indeed their very important responsibility?)
In yesterday’s post on Delighting in the Weird, I suggested we create the weird through mission moment preparedness at Board meetings. Mission moment preparedness is all about empowering Board members’ understanding of, engaging in and helping them share the mission – anytime, anywhere, with anyone. The idea is to create and practice scenarios where Board members can get comfortable sharing your mission. I hope we agree mission moments should be a part of every Board meeting – if not you can save some time and stop reading now. :)
Dontcha just love getting Seth Godin’s posts via email? Sunday was Delight in the Weird. Well he had me at “weird”. I always considered myself an outlier or weirdo…I read his blog and usually find a way to apply it to my fundraising, nonprofit work. This post is no exception.
I woke up Tuesday morning hearing the celebration of Nelson Mandela’s life. NPR was live broadcasting reports, music and the ceremony. There is something about listening and not seeing the celebration that really brought Mr. Mandela’s joy, passion and his life’s work, well, back to life.
His work, years on Robin Island, leadership and commitment to what is right and true leaves us with a legacy we must uphold – from South Africa to North America and everywhere in between.
Listening to the music, speeches and thousands of people in the stadium celebrating his life – in the rain – gave me pause. There are many ways to say goodbye to those who have died. Around the globe, different cultures have different rituals.
This South African celebration of life – so large, so loud, so joyous – even as tears flowed is the way to go. To paraphrase a comment I heard – once the person is gone we have only their legacy and life to remember – why not do it with joy instead of sadness.
Not that I am anywhere close to Mr. Mandela impact on all of us, but I intend to recommit my life to really LIVE today and everyday, making a difference (large or small) that allows for a celebration when I’m gone. I am leaving instructions to friends and family – have a celebration – no funeral. And it is up to me to be sure to live a life worth celebrating by touching the lives of others in a positive and joyous way. Once I’m gone, there is nothing more anyone can do – might as well celebrate.
As my Mom always says, death is a part of life – from the moment you are born you are dying. Death needn’t be something you fear or avoid – but life is something you can celebrate.
Thank you for all you have done Mr. Mandela – even at the end teaching us how to say goodbye. We know we can’t see you – but you are watching over us and making sure we carry on your legacy – wherever we may be.
Peace be with you.