Thursday, February 19, 2009

How to Say Thanks

The natural progression of fundraising is simple:
  1. You grovel for money.
  2. People give it to you.
  3. You thank them.
#3 is not optional.

The quality and timeliness of your thank you notes can make a real difference in your fundraising. That might seem surprising - after all, if you've already received a donation from someone, how can the way you thank them make a difference in your numbers?

It's simple, really. Toward the end of your fundraising and training, you will get to the "grovel zone". The grovel zone is where you send out an email to everyone you've ever contacted, because you are ---><--- thiiiis close to your fundraising goal and every dollar counts. And if you're well past your fundraising goal, consider raising it so you can get to the grovel zone, because every dollar you raise past your minimum makes an even bigger difference in the lives of those fighting blood cancer.

And when it comes down to it, the people that you've graciously thanked will be more tempted to pony up an extra $5, $10 or more for your cause either this time around, or for your next event.

Online Thank You Notes/Emails
The easiest thank you note to write is the one you write online. Team in Training's fundraising portal makes it easy for you to track your thank you notes for all the donations you receive online and I recommend you use it. Here are 4 tips for your online notes:
  1. Only use TNT's standardized thank you note as a guideline - customize your own.
    Write your own note, and keep it as a template that you can refer to for later notes. The standard thank you text is far too generic in my opinion. Spice up the letter to make it more your own, and then save a copy on your home computer, or email it to yourself, and use it as a starting point for all of your notes. Be sure to always thoroughly reread every letter before you send it to make sure that it still works for the person you're thanking and that you didn't accidentally leave someone else's personalization in it. (Aaaawkward!)

  2. Only 1 person per thank you note/email.
    TNT's portal allows you to send your thank you note to multiple people. Don't be tempted to do this. If you're thanking more than one person at a time, you're not tailoring your thank you note. It will sound like a form letter, and you already hit them with a form letter when you asked them to give you money. Personalize the thank you.

  3. Send your thank you emails at the same time every day and within 24 hours.
    I have a routine where I send out my thank you notes every morning after I've gotten dressed for work but before I leave for the office. I'm in more of a writing mood in the morning, and I have fewer distractions before I settle in for work. Find a time of day when you can take 5-10 minutes without distraction and send out your notes at that time every day.

  4. Cc: yourself on your thank you email.
    The TNT portal doesn't save the emails you send, so copy yourself on your emails. Your recipients won't see that anyone besides them received your thank you note, and this way you can keep track of exactly what you said to each person you thanked and when you thanked them.

Offline Thank You Notes
You will want to send offline thank you notes to people who mail checks to you. I also make sure to send an offline thank you note in addition to the email I sent online for people who donate more than $25. Here are 5 tips for writing thank you notes offline:
  1. Create and use a base template.
    Just like an online note, put together a few words to refer to as a standard template, and then customize from there. You'll probably write a shorter handwritten note than you'll have for your email thank you notes, so pull out your best phrases and make sure they work in a handwritten note.

  2. No good at physically writing letters? Type it up before you write.
    Whenever I totally wing it in my head, I end up scribbling something and then wanting to scratch it out and write over it. This is a mess in a thank you note. So I take that base template, type out a few words of personalization around it, and then I put pen to paper and transcribe it, word for word, into my note. When I'm done with the note, I remove my edits and start fresh on the computer with the next note.

  3. Send thank you notes for your mailed-in donations first.
    If you're sending thank you notes to people who donate more than $25 online, as well as to everyone who mails you a check, send the thank you notes to those who mailed you a check first. The others can wait a little while if need be because you've already thanked them online.

  4. Pace yourself!
    Brides can tell you about this firsthand. Thank you note fatigue is no fun and when a bunch of them pile up, it can seem overwhelming. The stress of having to say thank you can kill your gratitude. So stay on top of your notes and pace yourself.
    a. Bring your blank notes (and your base template) with you to the office and wherever you go. Anytime you have 5 minutes, slam out just one note. Don't try to do them all at once.
    b. Restrict yourself to a maximum of 3 notes in one sitting.

  5. Note "Goodies" - Consider them!
    Consider some note "goodies" for your written thank you notes, particularly for those who generously donated to your event. These little extras can serve multiple purposes: They can remind your donor why you're riding or they can be a little something your donor can distribute to friends who might be interested in donating. Or they can simply be a nice way of saying "thanks". Consider the following possibilities:
    a. A picture of you with your honored teammate, or you out training with your team.
    b. Magnets with your picture, or your honored teammate's photo on them and your website URL along with a simple "Thank you for your donation!"
    c. Moo cards
Going back to the well for additional donations is always possible when you've taken the time to properly thank your donors. And a good thank you is especially important if you want to do another TNT event. Hopefully these tips will help you write out all those thank you notes without getting overwhelmed.

Good luck and GO TEAM!

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