It is so easy for THANK YOU to fall through the cracks. Yes, you are focusing on getting last minute gifts in the door, but don’t forget to say thank you and say it properly.
It’s Thanksgiving season: time for reflections and actions rooted in gratitude. For those who are nonprofit leaders, there’s a dual focus: saying thank you and meeting your fundraising goals. This is a lot to manage, but it’s something you have to do. In the fundraising “business” it’s called stewardship and it is critical to sustaining your organization.
Here’s why: the competition for funding, talent, relationships, and wisdom is fierce. When we talk with people who give to nonprofits, we hear a consistent refrain: “I gave. I gave time and money. I gave to help them ‘get over the top.’ I gave when they were in crisis. And, yet I never got a thank you.” This turns people off, and creates a barrier to continued or increased giving and involvement. That doesn’t mean no one says thank you. But take it a step further: when and how is gratitude expressed? Who says thank you, and who gets thanked?
Nonprofits have to be in the thank you business because we literally depend on others. There’s a long list of people to thank. Board members give their wisdom, time, treasures and resources to propel your organization to new heights. Staff work long hours, often for low pay and limited benefits – without them you cannot fulfill your mission. Donors and funders – large and small – collectively provide the money your organization needs to seed new projects, to sustain, and to grow. Volunteers give their time and resources to offset expenses and reduce your costs. The media, who tell your story in a meaningful and positive way, help to educate and create awareness amongst your constituency.
What is the thank you process?
The thank you process is well thought out and meaningful. It is about more than a form letter. At every level of giving, there is an agreed-upon series of actions that are taken throughout the year. These are mapped out in advance and they continue the relationship between you and those who your organization depends on.
You have to operationalize the thank you process and make it organization-wide, so it becomes part of your culture. Put the same amount of energy, planning, and strategy into thanking and acknowledging your supporters as you put into seeking resources. Here are a few ways to give thanks: a special phone call, one-on-one meeting, personally signed letter, certificate of appreciation, donor wall, thank you breakfast, listing in the annual report, exposure through social media and your website, or premiums and gifts. These are fairly traditional: use your creativity and the uniqueness of your nonprofit to create ways to express your appreciation.
Take care of those who support your organization at the same time as you invite others to join them. Fundraising begins with the process of saying thank you.
Copyright 2019 – Mel and Pearl Shaw
When you are ready to build a fund development program, grow your fundraising, or increase board engagement we are here to help. (901) 522-8727. www.saadandshaw.com.