3 Tips for Your Next Thank-a-Thon


Does anyone make phone calls anymore? With the prevalence of emails, texting, and instant messaging you might feel like the old fashioned telephone is obsolete.

Not so fast! Thank-you phone calls to donors are still one of the easiest, most impactful ways to show gratitude and bolster donor retention. A 60-second phone call or voicemail to a donor can help you:

  • Welcome brand new donors to your organization
  • Retain current donors
  • Inspire/cultivate current donors to upgrade their gift
  • Add a moment of gratitude to your donor’s day while helping your organization stand out in their mind.

I wrote a while back on what to say during a donor thank-you call. Here are a few more tips to keep in mind:

Timeliness = Impact

More important than who makes the thank-you call is how promptly it’s done. In general, the call should be made within 48 hours of receiving the gift. For many nonprofits, this means that staff and available volunteers are making calls more often than board members. This is ok!

I once worked on a fundraising breakfast where a group of friendly, donor-centric staff members headed into a thank-a-thon room IMMEDIATELY after the event concluded. We ordered lunch, divided up the gift envelopes (on which most donors had included their phone numbers) and started calling to say thank you. We called 250 people in 2 hours. We called everyone – no matter the size of their gift.

Those donors won’t remember the name or position of the person who called them, but our organization will for sure linger in their minds as the one that thanked them THE SAME DAY they made their gift.

Texts are OK, When Appropriate

Texting your donors a quick thank you is appropriate on one condition – if you are already in a texting relationship with that person. Texting is often the primary mode of communication for busy people in Generations X and Y who bounce from meeting to meeting and don’t have the opportunity to make phone calls—or don’t like phone calls.

You may have a history of texting at their request to communicate things like an upcoming event date, the time and location of a meeting, etc. If so, it’s fine to continue your texting custom, just remember to keep it brief. Received your gift today – just wanted to say again how much we appreciate it!

Just like a call, the text will stand out as a moment of gratitude in your donor’s day. And you’ll still follow up with a thank-you letter describing in more detail the impact of their gift (keep it donor-centric!)

Cast a Wide Net

Call everyone you have time for, even smaller donors who are giving for the first time. Remember that many of your major donors started out “testing the waters” by giving small, regular gifts to your annual fund while they got to know you. Don’t ignore the smaller givers!

And don’t set the bar too high for who is qualified to make thank-you calls. With a little training and a brief script to start with, any friendly soul can do it.

What is your organization’s practice with thank you calls? Have you found that donors appreciate getting a call? Please share your thoughts, tips, and advice in the Comments box below!

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