Thank you. Together, they’re two of the most powerful words we have.
And said to supporters, they can have the most wonderful effect, but when is the best time to do it, and how?
Common sense would suggest every time a supporter has done something for you, and of course, thanking someone for their time and money straight after they’ve given it is the right thing to do.
But it doesn’t have to be restricted to this. Throughout the supporter journey there are so many opportunities to say thank you, and to deepen that relationship, such as contacting supporters of an appeal a few weeks or months after their donation with an update on progress so far, thanking people for the length of their support, or on the anniversary of their gift.
It’s certainly worth doing. Last year’s Commission on the Donor Experience report found strong anecdotal evidence that, not only does thanking someone make them feel appreciated and valued, but that going that extra step to provide better quality, more inspiring content can also motivate supporters to become better advocates of the charity, and to give again.
There are lots of tips on how to ensure your thank you messages stick in the supporter’s mind in the report, including using engaging content such as case studies, photos and videos, sending handwritten messages, and picking up the phone, particularly when they have done something significant or unusual.
There are also some brilliant examples. SolarAid, for example, talks about how it always tries to add a personal note or handwritten message, so people really feel they are being thanked personally.
Recently too, the Institute of Fundraising’s Supporter Experience conference saw British Red Cross talk about how staff, including its CEO, took to the phones and thanked over 100,000 supporters personally over just five days.
More publicly, film can be both fun and effective. One video that’s now had over 33,000 views is Charity: Water’s fifth birthday video, which celebrates both its supporters’ achievements and the charity’s own.
West Suffolk Hospital Charity also created a beautiful video in 2015 featuring many of those who had supported them in 2014 and their stories.
Another idea is featuring people’s names in a book. Light Up A Life, which takes place over the festive period each year, sees hospices invite those who have lost loved ones to make a dedication to their memory on a Tree of Lights and a Book of Remembrance, such as this one from Willow Wood Hospice, with the books also providing a nice way to say thank you to supporters.
Social media can also be a good way of sharing impact and thanking supporters, and sector event #YouMadeItHappen is back for a second year this month, on 11 October. It’s a chance for charities to show people what they’ve achieved, thanks to their supporters’ help. NCVO, which is behind the campaign, has some advice on how to take part and some excellent examples of what kind of content works best when using social media to say thank you and show impact.
Lots of food for thought – and thank you for reading!