Why say thank you?

Since this is the week of Thanksgiving here in the United States, I thought it would be fitting to do a week on thanking donors for their support.

Also, since I’m nothing if not data-driven, I didn’t call this blog post “Wherefore thank yous” because my previous attempt to go Shakespeare – Wherefore segmentation –  was one of my least trafficked posts so far.  So I’m going to have to get my fix some other way.

shakespearethanks

So, why do we say thank you to our donors and supporters?

If you just said because there is a legal requirement to do so know that I am virtually very disappointed in you.

As nonprofit marketers, love is our business.  Our goal is to have people who fall in love with our causes, who are interested to read our next mail piece or email, watch our next video, or take our next advocacy action.  For these people, the people who love us, donating is a pleasurable experience, connecting them to something they care about.

You may remember upwards of two things* from your freshman year Econ class:

  1. Something about supply and demand
  2. Individuals act to maximize their individual utility rationally.

Donating to a nonprofit does not fit the second one.  If we were logical, coldly rational beings, we wouldn’t donate to charity any more than we would appreciate a sunset, cry with our friends for their losses, and know that our children are the cutest of all possible children**.

Thank goodness people aren’t like this.  Thank goodness we give to those we don’t know, care for people we’ll never meet, and plant trees who will give shade to someone else’s grandkids.

As I write this, well in advance of its publication, Americans are caring about the people of a nation that many were so mad at a while back that they renamed potato side dishes to avoid using that country’s name.  Here you see both sides of the coin – the maddening demons in human nature exploding violently on to the innocent versus the millions better angels of our natures working together to heal, repair, and care.

My point, and I do have one, is that giving is an irrational act in the absolutely best possible meaning of the word irrational.  People love our causes.  In return, it is vital that we love them back.  Saying thank you is part of the social contract of giving and even if it were not, we would still do it because we are as good or aspire to be as good as those who are giving of themselves to our causes.

So was a little bit more flowery than I had intended.  Let me assure you, tomorrow, we’re going to get back to how acknowledgments can help us raise net revenues again.  Because make no mistake, a quality acknowledgment program can and should net additional money in the long term.  Just because it is the right thing to do doesn’t mean it will require sacrifice.

* I hate to brag, but I was an Econ minor, so I remember a third thing: “Something about inflation.”

** Clearly, this is wrong, because mine are and everyone else’s are competing for second.

Why say thank you?

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