Why You Shouldn’t Say ‘Thank You’

You’re livid aren’t you?  You’ve come here to skip the blog and leave a comment about how I’m a terrible fundraiser.  But hear me out…

I want you to imagine a colleague has just put a £50 donation from me on your desk.  Now, stop reading this and write me a little thank you.  Come back when you’re done.

Finished?  Excellent.

I’ll bet you that £50 donation your thank you started with those exact two words, ‘Thank you…’.  If it didn’t, you’ve probably been listening to the same people I do – you belta! (but please don’t hold me to the £50 bet thing, I’m skint).

Saying thank you to our supporters is one of the most wonderful, and important, jobs to do as a fundraiser and we should be thanking everyone as sincerely, quickly and as personally as possible.  Shouldn’t we then assume that supporters are going to receive a lot of these letters and notes all starting with the same thing; ‘Thank you for this…’ and ‘Thank you for that…’?

We need to STAND OUT.  But most importantly we need the supporter to really feel that we mean it when we say ‘thank you’.  That we LOVE they’ve chosen our organisation out of the countless others they could have given to.  That we are EXCITED to get to know them and share this journey with them.  That we APPRECIATE them and the wonderful thing they’ve done today.

I’ve been learning from the masters on this one and here’s a few things I’ve picked up along the way;

  1. Don’t open with ‘Thank you for…’: make your opening sentence something personal about the supporter or your relationship with them before you say thank you.  Stephen Pidgeon teaches this and crafts emails and letters that make you smile, and want to re-read. Imagine having that effect on supporters?
  2. Be authentic: you want the supporter to know their gift has been seen and appreciated, and that this isn’t just an automated response.  Beyond a handwritten note, how do we do this? John Lepp at Agents of Good encourages us to stop trying to perfect everything! Leave the ink smudges where they are and embrace the coffee mark.  All of this shows the supporter an actual human has written the message; the imperfections on your note are proof of the handmade gesture of one person wanting to connect with another.
  3. Add a little something extra: and to really show the supporter you’ve taken the time to think about and do something for them, actually attach a photo, link or news story to your thank you about what will be done because of their wonderful gift.  Simon Scriver refers to these as our ‘paperclip moments’.  Simon says, “It makes it stand out and sparkle, and people can feel it in the envelope”.
  4. Pick up the phone: my favourite way to thank is with a phone call.  With a background in telefundraising it’s hard to kick the habit – and I absolutely love it.  It gives me a chance to get to know the supporter better and it usually leads to a meeting over a cuppa where more great things can happen.  And then I write my thank you.
  5. Be you: I absolutely ADORE these ‘before’ and ‘after’ letters from the exceptionally talented copywriter, Lisa Sargent.  Let’s add a little passion, personality, fun and masses of creativity into our thank yous and let the supporter get to know you, so you can start to know them.  With an opening line like, ‘Robots whir. Comets streak…’, you can guarantee they’ll want to read more and look forward to anything else you send their way.

So the next time you pick up your pen to say thanks (which I hope is very soon!), really think about what you’re thanking them for, the way you want them to feel when they read it and how you can get across that this is one person connecting with another.

It’s not about not saying ‘thank you’, it’s about saying it in the same personal way you treat your relationships.  The actual words, ‘thank you’, should be nestled amongst a glowing show of gratitude, which will leave the supporter with no doubt you really mean it.

I’d love to hear about the canny little things you do to make your thank yous stand out.  Tweet me @CharityNikki or get in touch at nikki@charitynikki.blog

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