Maya Angelou said that “When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” Your donors are holding up their end of the bargain, are you holding up yours?

For Fundraisers, saying “Thank You” is more than just a common in courtesy, it could be the difference between retaining a donor and losing them forever. For many organizations, the acknowledgment program represents one of the largest single revenue streams and the highest response mailing they do. Studies have shown that new donors who give their second gift in the first 90 days are more than twice as likely to become consecutive multi-year donors and have significantly greater lifetime value than those who don’t.

The 5 “Must-Haves” of a Successful Acknowledgment Program

1. Be Timely

Acknowledge the gift quickly. Thanking people quickly will help solidify the goodwill that you are trying to establish.

Online donations should receive an instant email acknowledgment confirmation. Use “Thank You” in the subject line, and provide a link back to your organization’s website so they can visit and learn more about you.

Respond to ALL questions and inquiries quickly!

If you offered a back-end premium – send it immediately.

2. Be Personal

Cite the specific amount and date of the gift.

Be specific to your donor’s interests. Tell them how you will (or already are) using their donation – show them results!

When possible, use variable messaging to personalize the acknowledgment. Identify what motivated them to give, and remind them of the need they responded to – they cared about it enough to give you money.

Acknowledge each returning donor’s continuing support. Including an additional reply envelope gives the donor an opportunity to make an additional instant gift.

For gifts of a certain size, personally call the donor to say, “Thank You!”

3. Make New Donors Feel Special

Most of the new donors who give to an organization will never give again.

Remember, it’s not the first gift that’s the most important; it’s the second one! First impressions count!

New donors are still uncertain – give them more reasons to care about your work. Explain how their gift supports your work in a larger way.

Every day that you don’t acknowledge the gift is one more reason to:

  • Forget your organization.
  • Doubt the importance and impact of the gift.
  • Question your organization’s efficiency & integrity.
  • Decide to join the majority who will never donate again.

4. Be Humble

Actually say, “Thank You!”

Appreciate your donor’s generosity. Acknowledge their thoughtfulness and concern. Remember, you have to earn the right to ask again!

A donor who feels respected and appreciated is more engaged and will give more.

5. Be Timely

Yes, I know this is repeated, but it deserves that much emphasis because of its importance in the cadence of donor conversion and higher lifetime value! Quick turnaround trumps ALL other variables, e.g., open face vs. closed face, “live” stamp vs. indicia, laser vs. handwritten signature, CRE vs. BRE, etc.

Quick turnaround also leads to measurably higher donor retention and lifetime value, and the increased response rate can dramatically improve an organization’s cash flow.

Thanking donors promptly and personally should be a priority for every organization.  It will not only help solidify that precious goodwill and loyalty you are trying to establish with the donor (both new and existing) but implementing these five Acknowledgment techniques will unfailingly yield stronger retention rates and higher lifetime value.