Saying thank you feels like an obvious follow up to any good deed, but it’s easy for it to slip through the cracks when you have a church full of people who are always giving. But thanking your congregants can’t just happen when your staff has time. It’s a Biblical imperative as well as a key driver of growth. Thanked donors are more engaged donors. And they’re more like to give again and do more.
In fact, recognizing givers could be the difference between a one-time gift and donating the family estate. A 2014 study from Forbes found that “thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship.” Plus, it’s an easy way to demonstrate how their gift supports the church’s wider mission.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when thanking people and nurturing generosity within your community.
1. Focus on the giver
No matter how much someone gave, it’s important to think about how they’ll feel when receiving a thank you note. Will they feel acknowledged and respected? Or will they feel like an anonymous donor whose gift was just one of hundreds?
While not feasible to handwrite personalized thank you notes for everyone who has ever given, make sure you include personal touches such as their name, what fund they contributed to, and how their donation will make a difference. People want to know that their gift is making an impact, and there is no better opportunity to demonstrate that then when sending out a thank you note.
2. Time is of the essence
The sooner you thank your donors the better. Humans are hardwired with reward systems in the brain, and a thank you note triggers that reward chemistry. To make sure someone associates giving with a reward, a thank you note needs to be sent as soon as possible. The general rule is to make sure a thank you note is sent within two days of the gift being received. While that may feel like a quick turnaround, thank you notes lose their impact when too far separated from the gift.
No matter the size of your church, thanking donors in a timely manner is relatively easy using digital tools. With a custom church app from Pushpay for instance, you can send personalized thank you messages to donors based on the specific fund they donated to—all within a few minutes. Click here to learn more about this and other ways everyday technologies can help you display gratitude in meaningful ways—without a ton of extra work.
3. Say thank you…and nothing else
While it’s important to thank someone for their gift, and show how their gift impacts your organization, it’s important not to ask for more in a thank you note. Thank you notes that ask for more money or volunteer time are ingenuine and seen by most as tactless. Let this simple communication be about the giver, their donation, and the impact it has on your ministry. To ask for more while thanking someone undermines your organization’s gratitude.
Penelope Burk’s Donor-Centered Fundraising tracked donors who received personalized thank yous over 14 months. Burk tracked the donors who received a thank you phone call from a board member within 24 hours of the organization receiving the gift. The next time a person was solicited they gave 39% more than the donors who were not thanked by a board member via phone within 24 hours of their first gift. This trend continued with those donors who were thanked, and after 14 months, those who were called were giving 42% more than when they originally started giving.
While you may or may not see these kinds of results, it’s clear that thanking givers makes a huge impact. Both short- and long-term results strengthen your community and create a culture of generosity. No matter how you decide to thank givers, make sure you have some sort of plan in place to thank those who make your mission possible.
Most ministries use a multi-faceted approach to thanking donors, from emails, to texts, to messages within the church’s app—but email thank yous are the ones that tend to fall flat. And it’s not the way donors are thanked, but poor email strategy and etiquette. Download the 7 Deadly Sends of Church Email Marketing today to learn how your church can send stronger, more compelling emails and thank donors with excellence.