Doing It Right! United Way of Greater Chattanooga (Chattanooga, TN )

Every United Way sends thank-you notes to their donors. At a very basic level, the thank-you note serves to acknowledge receipt of the donor’s contribution, and to thank them for making the contribution. The thank-you notes used by most United Ways accomplish this basic purpose, but do nothing more. One United Way that is taking advantage of the opportunity to do more with the thank-you note is United Way of Greater Chattanooga (Chattanooga, TN)

What are they doing right?

First, a thank-you note should communicate to donors the impact of their contribution, answering the question, “What good did my contribution do?” In the second paragraph of their thank-you letter, United Way of Greater Chattanooga invites donors to visit their Web site to learn how their contribution is making an impact. Especially interesting to donors will be United Way of Greater Chattanooga’s progress on community issues and their individual success stories. Some United Ways include a success story in their thank-you letter, which can be very effective if the success story is personally relevant to the donor; however, United Way of Greater Chattanooga strikes a balance by encouraging donors to visit their Web site where there are a variety of success stories.

Second, the thank-you letter invites donors to not only see the impact of their contribution, but to deepen their relationship with United Way of Greater Chattanooga by volunteering. The examples of opportunities to volunteer, such as: read to children, deliver meals to senior citizens, or participate in Days of Action and Caring, suggest to donors that there are other needs and other methods of contributing beyond just a financial contribution. There is a telephone number for the volunteer center, which makes it easy for a donor to follow-up.

Third, the thank-you letter is from the campaign chairman of United Way of Greater Chattanooga. There are many thank-you letters that are sent out to donors from the CEO of their employer. While these CEO thank-you letters are good, they serve to reinforce the relationship between the employer and the donor, and not United Way and the donor. It is essential to work on developing the relationship between United Way and the donor so that, if the donor changes employment or retires, they still have a relationship with United Way. Another good reason to have the thank-you letter come from a United Way staff person is that it can demonstrate trust and accountability. If the contact information for the campaign chairman is included in the thank-you letter, and a donor has a question about what happens with their contribution, this personal connection to United Way can reinforce their trust of United Way.

The thank-you letter provides opportunities for United Ways to go beyond just acknowledging a contribution. A thank-you letter should communicate impact, deepen the relationship between the donor and United Way, and provide an opportunity for the donor to connect to United Way if they want to get involved or have questions. As you think about thanking your donors this campaign season, consider how you can make the most of the opportunity like United Way of Greater Chattanooga did with their thank-you letter. United Way of Greater Chattanooga, you are Doing It Right!