I recently read this article and loved it. The article offers great advice for thanking colleagues and staff members.
Below, I’ve borrowed and converted that advice (and added some additional thoughts) for writing the perfect thank you note to donors, board members and volunteers.
1. Make it personal. The thank you note is one more opportunity for starting or deepening a relationship. Research conducted by Penelope Burke and replicated by Blackbaud tells us that the most effective way to thank donors is by picking up the phone and calling. More effective than the handwritten note, which is next in line for personalization.
Whether you call, write or email, make sure your message includes most of the elements below.
2. Be specific. You know this is true. It feels nice when someone says thanks for a good job. It feels even better when they say, “Thanks, Sally, for navigating that tough conversation during the development committee meeting. You did it with integrity and still kept us on track.”
Thanking a donor should also be specific. “Thank you, Tom, for your generous gift of $15,000 to help your children achieve their full potential. The children you support will gain the skills they need to start kindergarten prepared and excited to learn.”
3. Offer praise. That’s what I tried to do with the example above. Make the donor and/or volunteer the hero. “You insights turned the meeting around.” “Your service inspires everyone around you to be a little bit better.” “Your idea jump started the brainstorming process. The ideas that flowed will make us stronger and more focused in 2018.”
4. Authenticity and sincerity count. Make sure you’re being truthful and are genuinely grateful. Have a smile on your face while you speak or write. You are sure to convey it.
5. Say something about the future. “Our plans for the new fiscal year are shaping up. We’d love to discuss them with you, get your insights. Over the next, few months we’re holding several “idea salons” (vision discussions, strategic plan reviews, program demonstrations). Please look for your invitation. We welcome your creativity (business savvy, straight talk).” Say what’s true.
If you’d like a resource for vision discussions and/or salons contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
6. Wish them well. “Until we next meet, I wish you all the best.” “Good luck with this year’s fishing trip.” “Please give Harry and your children my best.”
7. Consider including a small gift. “One of the children you support made this bookmark. I know how much you love to read. I hope you enjoy this token of our appreciation.” “We received this lovely note from one of our parents. I thought you would enjoy reading about the difference you are making from a parent’s point of view.”
8. Use the words “you” and “your” as often as possible. Research tells us that we love hearing our names and the words “you” and “your.” Sprinkle liberally.