Meaningful Thank You

If someone gives a gift, how long do you have to wait before asking for the next gift? The obvious answer is, “It depends.” Most of what it depends on is under your control.

The first step is to provide a thank you. Best practices say that the donor should receive a thank you (written of course) within two weeks of the date on the check. In the best of all worlds scenario, you have 14 days. However, between the travel time for the check in the mail, processing the check, writing the letter, weekends, and travel time for the thank you, it is a tight schedule. In many cases that means sending the thank you before the check clears.

The accountants will tell you to wait until the check clears. In your experience how many gift checks have ever bounced? Of all of those that bounced, how many times did the donors ever renege? In total how much did you loose?

The pragmatic view is that you will receive more over the long run from a very prompt thank you than the accountants will protect you from loosing.

The second step is to tell the donor about the use of their money. If it is designated for a project, a periodic update on the project’s status in the monthly newsletter will do. Of course, predicting meaningful (meaningful to the donor rather than the project manager) milestones and later achieving them increases donor confidence and engagement. It is also a form of accountability.

If the gift helps scholarship students, it is impractical to relate a student to a donor (confidentiality plus the overhead of tracking the relationship). However, the periodic updates can provide information about how the scholarship students are doing as a whole and the transformation that is taking place in their lives.

The periodic update is a form of accountability. It tells or reassures the donor that the gift is being used as intended.

It is important to create a meaningful relationship between the gifts and the results.

A simple guideline is that the closer the connection between the donor and the results, the more meaningful the information. As the closeness increases, the results become more meaningful. As the value to the mission increases, the meaningfulness also increases.  Mission connected donors increase sustainability.

Here are two examples. Painting the walls this summer will give the school a fresher look, which will create a more conducive learning environment, which will make it easier for the students to succeed. That is a long path (time and steps) between action and mission. A second example is providing a tutor for a student, helps the student succeed. It is a short path (time and steps) and produces a more certain outcome. The donor knows he or she is helping rather than hoping the students will respond positively to the fresh paint.

Next Step:

Say “Thank You” promptly

Report often on the use of the gift

Connect the donor to the mission centered results

The best “thank you” is a changed life or a successful project.

Once the donor is sufficiently thanked and well connected to the mission it is time to ask for another gift.

As always, contact us if you want help. We use a special process that offers a guarantee. For more information about our process and guarantee, you can click here.

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