Breaking down your thank you silos

As mentioned on Wednesday, there are a few different ways to thank your donors.   Thanking donors well, as we know, increases retention, average giving, and good karma in the world.

That said, we too often treat the way someone came into our organization, or the way they made their gift this most recent time, as the entirety of who a person is and how they are going to interact with our organizations.

Most donors have some combination of a mail box, an email box, a phone, a mobile phone, social media accounts, and more.  Yet we insist on assume that mail donors gonna mail checks, walkers gonna walk, phone-ees gonna give over the phone, and haters gonna hate.

If I were to create the stone tablets of nonprofit direct marketing, “Origin ≠ destiny” would be only slightly below “test everything” on the list of commandments.  Of course, I’m not going to create stone tablets, because we tested out of that in ancient Egypt.

It is certainly true that someone who started by donating through the mail is more likely to donate through the mail than someone who has only donated online.  This is because these two people have proven responsive to these two media.  However, it is not true that the mail donor will donate only through the mail.  It’s not even true that the mail donor prefers to donate through the mail – their origin may just have been how you reached out to her first.

Much is invested in creating multichannel donors – e-appends, email captures, telemarketing campaigns, mail conversion series, etc.  Yet we continue to acknowledge offline gifts offline and online gifts online and rarely the twain shall meet.

This is a pity because, while you will receive phone calls if someone is oversolicited by channels they didn’t want to be solicited through, you will rarely receive angry calls resulting from thanking someone too much.  Try to count the number of times someone has yelled at you “YOU ARE BEING TOO DAMN APPRECIATIVE OF MY SUPPORT!”.  If that number is existent, it’s at maximum finger-countable.

So I’ve just started trying some of these and while the juries are still out, early results are showing that they are bearing fruit.  This is in part because some of these are so darn low cost, if you can get the system right up front:

Thank your mail donors by email when you have the email.  I mentioned on Tuesday that speed of thank you is a key predictor of future support.  Let’s say that you are working with a caging vendor that will get acknowledgments out the day after the gift is received.  Chances are you aren’t going to improve significantly on that.  While neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from their appointed rounds, neither will these or any other disaster or incentive get them to speed up.

But what if at the same time as your caging vendor sent the letter, they also triggered an email to the donor that said “[Name], thank you so much for your [amount] gift.  We just got it and you are already [the great thing your cause does].  You are going to get your official receipt and thank you in the mail in a couple days, but I couldn’t wait to tell you how much your support means to all of us here at [organization].”

Send an outbound voice mail as a thank you for online and mail gifts.  This is another way to get thank you’s out quickly when you have a phone number for the donor.  This also works for event donors.

Have a mail-based welcome series for online donors and/or constituents. There’s no reason a thank you and welcome needs to stop at the edge of the Internet.

Send a post-event package or series for your event participants.  This will help those participants go beyond donating just to the event and forging a deeper tie with your organization.

Thank you for reading.  Please leave other ideas for multichannel thank you’s in the comments, so we can all learn from each other.

Breaking down your thank you silos

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