The “thank you” is the undisputed champion of all fundraising conversations. This is because your gratitude is the hallmark of acknowledging how God blesses you through the people you meet. Therefore thanking people must be foundational in your day to day work as a fundraiser. I would even rank your ‘thank you’ as more important than your gift request.
Let’s take a closer look at how to thank people because more than likely you are only thanking people after they donate. This is the standard approach to showing gratitude. Yes, this is good, and I want you to do this every time, but I want you to do more.
If you want better results in your fundraising, you have to learn to use these two words more often.
Thank the person, not the donation
I recommend that you get more personal when expressing gratitude because thanking someone goes beyond the donation. There is so much at play in a donation than the moment the person gives you money.
I often stop for a minute to comprehend how this person reached the decision to give. How did they come into my life? How did they get inspired? What conversations did we have? What led them to think that I was worth a financial gift? How did they reach the decision to be generous with their money?
When you pause and reflect on every step that had to occur, you recognize that many actions had to happen before the act of giving you financial support. This helps you thank the person more sincerely, and it helps you recognize the other steps that you should be thanking a person.
You have to thank a person each step they take with your mission. So don’t wait until you receive a donation to say ‘thank you.’ Thank the person for connecting with you, attending an event, calling you, asking a question, volunteering, and the countless other actions they do. Don’t wait until someone gives to thank them.
Take a step back – donations happen much earlier than you think
Let’s dive further in this idea of thanking people much earlier than when they give. A sequence of actions and decisions took place for a person to make that decision. I encourage you to find out what those steps are because once you know them, you can identify prospects much easier.
When I can’t understand how someone came to the decision to give, I contact them and ask, “You have humbled me by your generosity. Thank you so much. If I may, what inspired you?”
You might think this is intruding someone’s privacy, but it’s not. The idea that a donor’s privacy cannot be breached is a myth. Yes, people don’t want you to be cold called. They don’t want to be bothered with endless requests. Also, if all you do is contact them when you want money, they will likely get upset.
However, there’s a significant difference between my approach and what most Catholic organizations do: constantly ask for money.
When I learn why people donate, they tell me their story and how they came to the decision. I see how the different moments led to the donation, and I can become even more grateful.
The benefits of getting good at ‘thank you’
When you become a pro at saying thank you, you are inspired to do ten times more with their donations. This is why the generic thank you note only handicaps your ability to move your Catholic cause exponentially forward.
People’s generosity fuels our passion to do more for Christ, and we can even more by getting better at showing gratitude. If someone finds your cause worthy of their hard earned money, recognize that there is more at play than a financial transaction.
Dig deeper when it comes to thanking them. I recommend you make every effort to tell them how humbled you are by their attention and generosity. When you consistently do this, every day of the year, your fundraising will increase exponentially.
Thanking people more often will have a tremendous impact on your fundraising.
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The four ‘thank you’ messages you must master
Let’s look at the four moments when you should thank people.
The first is thanking someone after they make a donation. As discussed, this is the most fundamental thank you. Find your authentic way of saying, ” I thank you for your generosity.” Don’t copy someone else’s version. Put it in your own words. You have to come from a place of authenticity.
If you are looking for inspiration, look no further than the writings of Saint Paul. He is a master when it comes to thanking people for their generosity.
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The second way you can thank people is after meeting them. Whether it is the first encounter or a “catch-up” after an event, make sure you say thank you. It’s also good to mention one or two comments they said that stuck with you.
The third way you can thank someone is after they do something for you. This is apart from a donation. What comes to my mind are volunteers. Volunteers are a bedrock of support for your work, and they should be thanked after they help you.
The fourth way is when you become a pro. This thank you happens at the specific moments which you know are fundamental moments in your relationship with a person, especially if they are not yet a donor. You can do this with a handwritten card, a phone call, and personal email. People don’t expect these messages, but when they receive them, they are extremely grateful.
Always remember: Catholics want to give, but they want to give to Catholic organizations who they know will do more than just take their money.
Putting your ‘Thank You’ into practice
Exercise on how to get better at saying thank you.
Pray – Reflect on the current way you thank people. Do you think you can do more? Is it sufficient? Read Saint Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians to see how he personal thanks people.
Pray – Reflect on the different actions people do for you which you could thank them? Apart from donations, what else do they do?
Pray – What are four different ways you can thank people?
Ask – Map out a plan for thanking people more often throughout the year