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Thank you, Thank you, Thank you

Am I the only one who gets excited about seeing a handwritten envelope on the doormat?

Mine yesterday was a card from a friend. In it was a lovely message thanking me for the vegetable growing book I sent her for a birthday present two weeks ago – it’s a new hobby that she’s loving in lockdown.

Two weeks before on her special day we’d seen each other over Zoom. I joined a group of friends and family honking Happy Birthday to her over the internet, vaguely in sync, I think! At the end of the singing she told me how excited she’d been to open her book that morning, and said thank you to me with a huge smile. I felt that warm and fuzzy feeling.

A few days after her birthday, she sent me a message saying she’d planted her tomatoes outside and thank you so much for the book – she really appreciated it. She sent a photo of her tomatoes all settled in their new pots.


That’s three thank yous in 2 weeks. Does that sound too much? It certainly didn’t feel like that.

Most of us know that thanking our donors is important, but there’s a difference between sending a thank you for a gift and having a thank you programme. I’ve recently completed the Certificate in Philanthropic Psychology from the Institute of Sustainable Philanthropy. As part of this course we reviewed Adrian Sergeant and Jen Shang’s report on thanking donors. Their data shows that thanking people four or more times per year increases giving and that those organisations who are best at thanking retain more of their supporters. That probably makes complete sense to you. Yet how many of us focus our efforts on thank you programmes?

Building true connectedness for any supporter, including major donors, takes a long time. We need consistency and we need ‘out of the blue, expectation exceeding thank yous’. With our high-net-worth supporters we can often take an even more personal approach to really build how connected they feel, to make them feel valued and inspired and it’s not too late to start. If a major donor only got a thank you in an acknowledgement letter for a gift they made earlier in the year, why not send
them a handwritten note today? Or leave them a voice message, email them a short video thanking them and updating them on why their gift’s made such a difference.

My friend made me feel amazing for giving, she made me feel loved. What can you do today to make a donor feel that?

Photo of Louise, charity fundraising consultant

Louise Morris is Founder of Summit Fundraising. She’s a major donor fundraising specialist who’s worked with over 100 charities helping them raise large gifts.


Adrian Sergeant and Jen Shang’s full report can be found here.

This was posted on 3 June 2020.

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