Would it be tacky to add to our mailing list names of people from whom we have received tribute donations — in particular, the families of people for whom we receive “in memoriam” donations? In my eagerness to enlarge our donor base, I’m wondering if I’m wandering into the realm of bad taste? What do you think?
—All alone with my memory gifts
Thanking donors seems like something so basic that we shouldn’t even have to talk about it. But more mistakes, with more devastating results for donor loyalty, are made in the thanking of donors than anyplace else. So, let’s go over six rules for saying “thank you” that are absolutely essential.
- Thank a donor immediately. Send out a thank-you note for a gift no later than the day after the gift is received. Nothing is more important than a prompt thank-you.
- Be humble. Don’t act as if or communicate the thought that you were expecting the gift as something that was the donor’s responsibility to do.
- Praise the donor’s generosity. Do not stint. Let the donor know how important the gift is.
- Praise your donor’s leadership. Anyone who gives is a leader and should be treated as such, and call attention to the fact that their gift will influence others to give.
- Thank donors for past support. When you receive today’s gift remind the donor how appreciative you are of past support, but do not talk about future support. Do not say thanks out of one side of your mouth and hint at future requests out of the other.
- And finally, never let a hint of disappointment show. Never, ever show a lack of gratitude for a gift, whatever its size.
There are two things that must be remembered about saying thanks. Donors expect it, and they deserve it....