Have you ever made a first-time gift, or substantially increased your giving to a charity only to receive a computer generated gift receipt and nothing more? Has this same "ungrateful" charity asked you for another gift a few months later? Yikes! Unfortunately, these scenarios are not uncommon. In many cases, this leaves the donor feeling like their gift did not matter or that nobody even noticed.
The fact is, most non-profits are under-staffed and so focused on getting the gift that they don't prioritize stewardship. With events to plan, appeals to send out, and goals to meet, busy development shops can easily get into the mode of doing what is easiest, fastest, or most efficient. This often leads to generic, impersonal acknowledgements that can be a turn off to many donors.
Bottom line? You need to show the love! Not properly stewarding your donors all but ensures they will become past donors.
So what can busy organizations do to improve the way they show appreciation to their supporters? I have two simple solutions:
1) Flag all first-time gifts to your organization and send the donor a personalized thank you note acknowledging their first gift and how important it is to your organization. If you have the capacity, an even better approach is to call to thank them as well and find out what inspired them to give. Not only will this make your new donor feel GREAT, but it can also yield valuable information about donor motivations!
2) Flag all increased gifts (especially large increases) and send the donor a personal note thanking them for increasing their support and explaining how the gift will make an impact. Better yet, call to thank them!
Unlike a boilerplate thank you letter, this more personalized approach both acknowledges and thanks the donor for a specific desired behavior - deciding to make a gift to your charity or increasing their support. This makes donors feel noticed and appreciated. It feels personal!
While not all donors need this type of positive reinforcement, many do! It is far easier to retain your donors than to acquire new ones, so putting in a small effort to more personally thank donors for positive changes in their giving behavior will yield a more loyal and generous donor base.