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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

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Avoid 3 Mistakes in Your ONLINE Thanks
Tom Ahern Guest columnist: Gretchen Barry, Director of Marketing,

December, 2015

Saying thank you is the polite and decent thing to do. We all know this.

Why, then, do so many nonprofits mess up when it comes to acknowledgements?

The "thank you" is day one of a donor's future relationship with your nonprofit
. It has to be handled correctly - for any type of donation, online included.

Worry donor acknowledgment isn't a total minefield (no acknowledgement is). Nonprofits should still watch where they step, though

Avoid the three mistakes listed here, and map your course through the field.

Mistake 1: Thanking Only Through Direct Mail

Yes, you can thank through direct mail as an addition (we'll get to that), but your thanks needs to start at the source, online. A donor who has made a quick donation deserves an equally speedy thank you.

Make sure you have an email that is sent out as soon as a donation is, two, thanks.

After that, you can send a direct mail package. Include a thank you letter signed by a higher-up from your organization and some extra materials about your nonprofit and its mission.

Thanking online is pretty easy - donors know this. A thoughtful package from your organization shows added care and effort. This is especially true with younger donors, like millennials, who see direct mail as out of the norm.

Mistake 2: Writing with Impersonal Language

Your supporters have a spidey-sense for spotting mass communications and they don't like them.

Donors want a person on the other side of an interaction, not a robot.

They want to be personally addressed, spoken to like people, and sent letters from real members of your organization.

It is unrealistic to expect a team member to customize a thank you for every letter that is sent out. However, your team should design fill-in the blank templates that make it easy to auto-fill personal details. Keeping accurate records in your nonprofit database will make this step simple.

Doesn't "Hi Sally" sound better than "Dear donor," or worse, "To Whom It May Concern?"

Personalization is a minor fix that packs a big punch.

Mistake 3: Only Recognizing Large Gifts

Many of your online donors are going to be younger and newer, just dipping their toes into nonprofit waters. The first donation they make is likely not going to be the biggest they can or will give.

Don't miss out on a major gift prospect because she waded into the donation pool rather than diving in. Her donation deserves the same thanks a diver's gift ge

Also, and this is a big ALSO, all donations are valuable. You should be recognizing all donor and donation types, from new members of your monthly giving program to someone who just got you a major matching gift.

Take advantage of the thanking outlets the internet has to offer. Send an email, retweet, post a thank you on Facebook, or set up a donor of the day on your website.

Go forth ... and thank! (PS: thanks for listening, too!)


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