Thursday, October 10, 2013

Combine automation and personalization when receipting donors


Jeff Brooks recently made the argument that donor receipts should go out within 48 hours. Most online
fundraising platforms automatically send receipts to donors as soon as the donation is processed. Many nonprofits assume that the electronic receipt buys them time for acknowledging donors personally. Not so.

An electronic receipt tells the donor that you received their gift. But a letter with a hand written note tells the donor that they are a priority for the organization. Think of it like your nephew's birthday gift... you smile when that crayon-drawing thank-you comes in the mail a week after his birthday, but you question whether your brother is a quality parent if the note doesn't show up for three months. Timeliness makes a difference.

Brooks suggests getting the entire organization on board with the fast thank-you turnaround, but just getting people to agree doesn't make things happen. Consider setting up a dedicated station for thank-you note writing. Assign one or two people the task of printing out thank-you receipts every morning before the day gets hectic. From there, it takes just a couple minutes to personalize the letters with a hand-written note in the margin or at the bottom, sign it, seal it, and put it in the outgoing mail.

Creating a designated work space for thank-you writing will streamline the process, and it will take just minutes a day to strengthen relationships with your best supporters. It's a key ingredient to keeping your organization sustainable. Whatever you do, don't use automated receipts as an excuse to ignore even the smallest online donations.