Thank you – two simple words to express gratitude or acknowledge a gift or action. But these two words can strike fear in even the most confident donor relations professionals. Nothing is more intimidating than staring at a blank screen and wondering what to write. All of the questions swimming in your brain – what should I say? Who should sign it? Is this personal enough? How much time should I spend writing this? What will the donor think or feel when they receive it? Is there a better way to say thank you?
The reality is that acknowledgments are the most important of the 4 Pillars of Donor Relations. We must first say thank you in a meaningful, timely, and accurate way before we can begin to develop a relationship with our donors. This is step one in building a trusting relationship with your organization. Think about it – if we cannot do this well, why would they give again?
So it is the most important pillar - no pressure – right? Right! It doesn’t have to be difficult. A good acknowledgment should be three things:
Here's a pro tip to make your life easier: create a process that tiers the acknowledgments by size and even by behavior (first-time donors, loyal donors, donors who upgraded their giving). The larger the gift, the more personalized it should be, and conversely, those smaller gifts can have more general messages.
Here are a few great acknowledgments we received in the donor acknowledgment swap:
Check out this beautiful online acknowledgment – the photo is excellent, and the story it is beautiful.
Or this example of First Time Donor acknowledgment, which included adorable stickers. But the copy is everything – you gave, we noticed. Thank you for making your first gift. Awesome!
Here's another amazing example from Western Michigan. They created a templated acknowledgment and changed out the photos for each college and modified the language just a bit. It makes it more personalized but still very easy to execute.
The University of Southern Miss does a special thank you to every employee that gives. This design is fun and the gratitude language is amazing.
And they included tech stickers – super cute, cost effective, and efficient. They printed extras and sent the tech stickers to other donors as well. One printing and multiple uses. Brilliant!
We all know how important it is to say thank you – and we want to help you become great at doing this for your organization and for your donors. Join us April 19 for a webinar on how to achieve acknowledgment perfection. Jan McGuire and Lynne Wester will discuss the process, timing, delivery and other tips and tricks to help you create meaningful, efficient, and effective acknowledgments.