Today’s post is a guest post by our good friend, Mary Cahalane. Mary is the principal of Hands-On Fundraising, and is a nonprofit fundraising consultant, copywriter, and blogger.
I wrote (ok, ranted) about the things I wish we fundraisers wouldn’t do.
A commenter asked a question I know I’ve asked myself over the years. I thought I’d explore it a little further today.
The question was basically “how can you say thank your to donors, over and over again, without it feeling old and stale?”
I’m guessing we’ve all found ourselves staring at a piece of paper or a computer screen, and wondering just how to say it again.
There are some practical and some philosophical things to consider here.
Philosophically, I don’t believe we can ever say thank you enough. Is there enough gratitude to offer in exchange for someone’s:
- Hard-earned cash
- Commitment to your cause
- Sense of altruism that spurs them to take action to help others?
(If you answer “yes”, then you probably can stop reading now. I’m only likely to irritate you.)
If you’re finding your thanks feeling rote and stale, then it’s probably time to check your own sincerity.
Do you need to step back a minute and remember just why you do what you do?
That moves us into the practical.
You know you need to write it. You know you should write it. But you feel like you’ve already said it all. You’re boring yourself!
The fix? Stop writing. Take those fingers right off that keyboard, stat. Then, close your eyes and picture your donor. Think about her gift. Then imagine you’re sitting right there next to her. And of course, you want to thank her.
If you’re by yourself (or don’t care if your office-mate thinks you’ve lost it) hit the sound recorder and say what you’d say to her.
Otherwise, go ahead and put your hands back on the keyboard now.
But just write what you’d say.
Please don’t worry about whether it’s appropriately phrased. And I beg you to resist the urge to “formalize” it!
Because it’s not only ok for this letter not to follow some “business” format. It’s a very good thing.
Unfortunately, from what I see in my mailbox, most organizations stick formal wording. And those thank you letters are almost painfully dull.
They make me want to cry, and not in a good way.
Be genuine and you’ll stand out in the crowd.
Your donor doesn’t care about your Board of Directors. Or your great reputation. Or that award you won last year.
She just wants to know that she matters.
That she did something wonderful to help someone else.
And that you noticed.
Mary Cahalane is the principal of Hands-On Fundraising. After more than 30 years in the nonprofit world, Mary still approaches her work hands-on. She is a nonprofit fundraising consultant, copywriter, and blogger. Mary has built successful fundraising programs by focusing on great communications, thoughtful planning and strong donor relationships. Learn more about Mary and the work that she does here!