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You cannot say thank you enough!

As students head back to school, its time for nonprofit professionals to return to FUNdraising School.


Receiving a gift – especially a major gift – is an important milestone for any organization. Gifts and grants are the financial backbone of so many nonprofits, and they cannot be taken for granted. Yet sometimes they are. And that can have a negative impact now and in the future.

Here’s what we have learned. In the nonprofit sector professionals and volunteers “wear many hats.” There is a lot of work to be done, and people are busy. Sometimes the function known formally as “gift processing” gets neglected, or set aside until the end of the month or another arbitrary time. While this allows other priorities to receive attention, it is also dangerous.

Put yourself in a donor’s shoes. They have made a gift. They may have thought a lot about the gift before making it, regardless of the amount. They may have even worked in consultation with your staff to define their gift and how it will be used. After they make the gift, they want to know you received it, and what you will do with it. They want a receipt, and they want to hear the words “thank you.”

You may think, “oh our donors are so close to us, they know we appreciate their support.” If you appreciate their support, show it. We’ve seen what happens when you don’t: people feel neglected; they feel you don’t need their money; they don’t understand what is going on; and some get angry and talk bad about your organization. They may never say it to you, but they say it. We know this because it is a frequent finding when an organization – or institution – conducts a fundraising feasibility study. Those interviewed tell us: we love their work, but we don’t hear from them until they need money.

Here are five steps to make sure you are quick to say, “Thank You!”

  1. Ensure that your online giving page is set up to send an automatic email thank you message to every donor.
  2. Set up a process so that when a gift is received through an online transfer, credit card payment, or check, someone in accounting immediately informs either the executive director or development director. A letter should go out within 24 to 48 hours that is personally signed.
  3. Regardless how the thank you is sent, make sure the content is original, accurate, engaging, and current. Update your letters every month, and more often as appropriate.
  4. Record the gift in your donor database, and schedule a time for a follow up communication. Depending on the individual and your organization’s resources, the follow-up could be an email, a phone call, or an invitation to lunch or to visit your organization.
  5. Finally, for a gift that is considered “large” or unusual for your organization, pick up the phone and personally say thank you. Start a conversation.

We know you care – it is at the heart of all your work. Take a little time now to say thank you.


Don’t forget:


Copyright 2019 – Mel and Pearl Shaw

When you are ready to build a fund development program, grow your fundraising, or increase board engagement we are here to help. (901) 522-8727. www.saadandshaw.com.

Image courtesy of 123RF.com.

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