Saying Thank You the Right Way
Most United Way donors we have surveyed recall being thanked by their local United Way. However, not all donors report they have been thanked the way they want to be thanked. Every donor wants to have their gift acknowledged, but many donors report that their United Way is not thanking them the way they want to be thanked.
How to Thank. There are many methods you can use to thank your donors – email, thank-you note, video, personal call, annual report, recognition dinner, etc. Most United Ways use a variety of methods to thank their donors but have no idea whether or not donors want or appreciate being thanked using those methods.
To effectively thank your donors, you will need to ask each of your donors individually how they want to be thanked. The simplest way to do this is to include some check-off boxes on your pledge form or online giving platform that allow your donors the opportunity to choose the method of thanking they prefer. This has become more difficult as some employers do not release the names of their donors which means United Ways must seek alternative ways to understand how individual donors want to be thanked. Some United Ways have developed dedicated pages on their website where donors of companies that do not release donor names can go to sign up for their e-newsletter, follow their social media, and indicate how they want to be thanked.
In order to thank each donor as they want to be thanked, your United Way will need to use more than one method to thank your donors. From our donor research, we have found that most United Ways will need to be using two to four methods of thanking donors to account for the different methods donors will prefer.
What to Say. On average, nearly one-third of all United Way donors tell us that they know United Way appreciates their contribution, but they have no idea what was accomplished with their contribution. Donors want to know how their contribution made things better. They want to know that their donation provided someone a home, fed a hungry family, or allowed someone to graduate from high school. Your donors will feel appreciated when they can clearly see and feel how their contribution made a difference in their community.
Note the focus on the donor. Thanking is all about the donor, not United Way. Many United Ways talk about how they met their campaign goal in their thank you, but this does not make donors feel appreciated because it is all about United Way and not about the donor. You should ask your donors individually what issues they care about and show how their contribution addressed those issues when thanking them.
Thanking your donors requires a focus on your donors. Be sure you are thanking your donors the way they want to be thanked and telling them what was accomplished with their contribution.