Are you effectively thanking and engaging your donors? I often encounter well-intentioned nonprofits that are hurting their acknowledgment efforts through common mistakes:
1. Slow response. You risk losing donors—and donations—by waiting too long to send thanks. Some say that 48 hours is the ideal turnaround time, but if that’s not realistic for your organization, aim for a week at the most.
2. Not thinking outside the letter. Thank-you letters are great, and certainly are necessary for tax deductions, but additional forms of acknowledgment can be equally important. For example, if you can’t get the letter out until a week later, why not have a staff or board member call the donor within 48 hours? A personal visit makes a huge impact on cementing that donor relationship. The point is, you need to continue thanking and communicating to break the cycle of ask, thank, ask, thank…
3. It’s not you, it’s me. Too many donor acknowledgments talk endlessly about the organization. Instead, keep your language donor-centric (more “you” and “your,” less “we” and “our”). Your donors don’t just want to hear about what your organization is accomplishing, but what their gift is accomplishing. Help your donors feel involved—and indispensable.
4. Failing to show impact. Treat giving as an investment—tell your donors what they get for their dollar. Success stories are a great way to do this. You can also break down your services into gift amounts that are easy to understand: Tell donors how many families they can feed or animals they can save per dollar amount raised… for a thank-you letter, simply do the math to translate the donor’s gift into impact.
5. Forgetting to follow up. The job isn’t done after you’ve thanked them. Report back and show results/impact before you ask again. As mentioned in #2, this could be done through phone calls and visits, or through other communications such as letters, emails or postcards.
Remember, acknowledgment is a key element to building relationships and cultivating donors!