The Final Four of Gratitude

Apr 03, 2024

Well, we made it to the Final Four in this Madness we call March. And as much as it pains this parent that sent her kid and her money to Indiana University, I will have to root for the home team, Purdue. Admittedly, that was difficult to type. But I’m nothing if not a team player. So, Boiler up! <This blog may have to self-destruct after you read it, so there is no proof I actually wrote that.>

This newfound sporty Hoosier loyalty should be a big clue to you, dear reader, that I view fundraising, stewardship, and marketing with donors in much the same way—as a team sport. Thus, why I remind my team that I do plan to retire. Someday.

Someday! – Ramana's Musings

While it’s not going to happen this week or even this year, it will eventually happen. And when that time comes, I want our community of donors to know that they are still in good hands with a remarkable team ready to take care of their charitable needs. So, we’ve implemented an uber basic strategy to help our donors get to know us better. And, oddly enough, it’s even helped increase donations. Check this out and replicate it as you see fit.

Every month, we write a new GAL—Gift Acknowledgement Letter. Some people think that’s overkill, but it works for us. (Trust me, it's not that hard. Besides, they wrote a check, can't you write a letter?) Ever since we began this system, we’ve noticed that donors are more inclined to give multiple times per year. After all, each thank you/gift receipt is different, so they know we’re not just phoning it in with the same ‘receipt’ for every donation. That means they open our GAL and read it. And because of that, they are more inclined to give again—in the same year—even many times a year. But that’s not the best part, in my opinion.

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To me, the best part is that everyone on our team signs every Gift Acknowledgement Letter. You read that right. As the CEO, I’m not the only person who signs off to thank our donors. I know many nonprofits stick to the CEO sig only. And while that’s good, it could be great! The donor gives and they expect a thank you from the President—everybody does that! And, while I do sign every letter, so does every other teammate. Remember, fundraising is a team sport!

Here are the Final Four things this accomplishes:

  1. Every teammate sees each donation that comes in each week. So, if we are ever out and about and run into a donor while shopping at Meijer, we can easily thank them in person, because we all know who gave.
  2. Every donor sees who our entire team is and what they do. So, one day, when I do retire, they will know someone—or a few someones—still holding down the fort. That consistency will be key for many donors; especially if they don’t like change.
  3. Every donor will see that every teammate is also a donor. In other words, we talk the talk and walk the walk because we would never ask a donor to give unless we also give.
  4. Although I know many of our donors, I don’t know all of them. So, when a thank you letter/receipt comes in the mail signed by all of us, if they don’t know me, they may know another person on our team. When they see that a teammate knows them and placed a ๐Ÿ˜„ or โค next to their signature, it connects them to the Foundation. It’s like the relationship they have with that donor extends to the Foundation. That was an unexpected surprise that we love!
    Those who stand out never fit in. Because they're outstanding ...

It's a very left brain marketing strategy to leverage each person you work with to sign the GALs. And it’s easier than you think. With our system, we process donations every Tuesday. So, the GALs are merged, printed, and placed in a folder to pass around the office. When the folder hits my desk, I review each generous gift, sign every letter, and pass the folder on to the next teammate. It’s such a quick process.

It's a very right brain marketing strategy to put our emoticon pictures on the letters. We don’t always do that since we like to change it up. Sometimes we adjust the closing line and ‘titles’ like you see below.

When it comes to sending gratitude to donors, sometimes a personal letter directly from you to them is on point. But when it comes to Gift Acknowledgement Letters, being prompt when sending them out—we always thank before we bank—is just as important as getting every cent of value out of that expensive stamp!

That’s why we make sure our GALs are stampworthy by ensuring content held within is interesting to read and updated while providing all the IRS required documentation to be deemed a receipt—that’s the bare minimum. Turning it into team sport and adding a bit of right brain marketing moxie adds that cherry on top.

Teamwork…it’s not just a March Madness thing. This is the Final Four of Gratitude!

 Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily,

[email protected]
dawn brown creative, llc. 

P.S. Fundraising is hard, even though you make it look
oh-so easy! ♥

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