Our theme this week is ‘Simple steps you can take to move from transactional fundraising to Transformational Giving in your existing development program’.
Yesterday we highlighted a cool brochure (I think that’s the first time I used those two words in the same sentence).
Today we visit the wonderful world of thank you receipting in order to give a quick shout out to Amy Karjala, the Director of Development of Seoul USA, the organization my wife and I founded that has soooooooo moved beyond that I need to stop referring to it that way.
(Amy also helped me to write the Coach Your Champions book, so when it comes to Transformational Giving she knoweth of what she speaketh.)
In any case, Amy’s doing something really cool with the Seoul USA thank you receipt letters: she’s using them to grow champions, not just thank them.
Thank you receipt letters are far and away the most opened pieces of mail we send to champions. Weird, then, that we slave over our fund raising appeal letters and acquisition letters but typically spend about 2.5 minutes writing the thank you note for the month.
Not so Amy.
Amy is jettisoning the time-honored (and thus nonsensical) practice of writing thank you letters by month (e.g., the May thank you letter, the June thank you letter, etc).
Instead, she is writing a thank you letter series, in which champions receive letter #1 in response to their first gift, letter #2 in response to their second gift, and so on. Each thank you letter is oriented toward providing the champion with a progressively practical bite-size growth morsel related to the cause and how the champion can impact it.
Most nonprofits do a specialized thank you letter for first-time givers. Many do specialized thank you letters for designated gifts. Amy’s approach takes that to the next level by enabling the first paragraph to be customized related to the gift intent before transitioning to an intentional lesson or equipping moment in the rest of the letter. She balances the thank you and the coaching lesson very nicely, and the lesson never comes across as an ask but rather as a ‘Since you sent us all that money, you might be interested in this opportunity to further impact the cause in your sphere of influence’ moment.
This is a great example of how coaching your champions can be scaled for a nonprofit with a large network of champions.
(Of course, a large nonprofit might respond by saying, ‘Yeah, but our receipting process doesn’t enable us to customize thank you letters that way.’ To which I respond, ‘If there’s ever a process worth reworking to enable maximum personalized interaction with your champions, it’s the receipting process.’)
As Seoul USA champions recognize that the thank you letter contains something even better than a receipt for tax purposes or a Crackerjack toy surprise, I expect the piece to assume even more primacy that it already does in the typical development program.