The Power of Thanks

Learning to say “Thank you” 

By E. Dale Berkey, Ph.D. 

President, BBS & Associates 

“Thank you.” Two simple words.  

 And we’ve heard them more in recent months, since multitudes have expressed their gratitude to first-responders and essential workers in the midst of the pandemic. 

 In a way, you might say, the world is catching up to us. 

 Those of us who serve non-profit organizations have relied on givers all along — people who serve, people who sacrifice — and gratitude is essential fuel for those who give. 

 None of the ministries we serve could make the impact they make, or even function, without donors. 

 When your donors give, they need to be thanked promptly, accurately, warmly, and, when possible, personally. 

 Unfortunately, ministries do not always live by this precept. 

 The online fundraising group NextAfter recently performed a study which involved making first-time donation to 37 ministries and then tracked the communication they received in return. 

 Result? Only 8% of the recipient organizations called to say “Thank you. 

 In fact, 49% of the organizations either sent nothing, or stopped communicating after a month. 

 On the flip side, a simple Thank you can go a long way toward turning a new donor into a lifetime donor. 

 Research has shown that first-time donors who receive a personal “Thank you” within 48 hours are four times more likely to give again. Furthermore, a “Thank you” phone call will boost new donor retention by 30%. 

 This can be the make-or-break strategy for ministries in the pandemic economy. According to Blackbaud’s Charitable Giving Report, the pre-pandemic retention rate for first-year donors was 27% for mail24% online. 

 Bottom line: Ministries cannot afford NOT to show gratitude. 

 Showing thanks also makes significant additional impacts on your donors. When you say “Thank you” … 

  •  You signal the fact that you received her gift. 
  • You reassure the donor that her gift will be used in the way it was intended to. 
  • You reinforce the notion that she made a good choice. 
  • You satisfy a deep-down desire for gratitude that the donor may not even recognize in herself. 

 So it’s crucial to find ways to thank your donors, and thank them often. 

 But how? 

 Here are five ways we’ve learned to thank donors effectively: 

  1.  If a gift was given in the mail, send out a “Thank you” letter within 48 hours. If the gift was given online, the donor should receive a “Thank you” email almost immediately. 
  2. Send the donor a handwritten note. 
  3. Phone the donor to express your appreciation for her gift. 
  4. Send the donor a short video “Thank you” message. 
  5. Send the donor a small ministry-oriented or encouraging gift (photo, book, etc.). 

 If you’ve come up with other ways to thank donors, I’d love to hear about them. Feel free to send me an email to get the conversation started.