Thanking Donors Online

Bill Scott

Bill Scott

At just about every fundraising event I go to, it’s not uncommon to see staff and volunteers stuffing envelopes with a confirmation letter of the listeners pledge and a quick thank you note.  You want that thank you letter to arrive at that donors home ASAP.

Traditional mail will become less of an important vehicle over the next few years.  Electronic giving is a life changing thing in the life of a radio station.  The way we receive donations is changing quickly and the way we say thank you is beginning to follow as well.

For the good or for the bad we are living in a day in age where we expect things to happen quickly.  Donors want to be thanked quickly as well and know they are appreciated.

I’m going to brag on two stations that I have seen do this really well.  Both stations wanted to make sure they honored every major donor within a short period from the time they made their gift.  You as a station need to decide what that major gift is.  Each station will come up with a different price point.

KTSY in Boise ID was the first place I saw this happen.  Station manager Brian Yeager decided he wanted to send a personal thank you to each donor that gave a $500 gift or more.  What Brian did really impressed me.  Brian or someone on his staff spent the day walking around watching for the $500 gifts to come in.  Once a $500 gift was spotted, Brian would take out his iPhone and record a personal video for that donor, then he would email that video to the donor.  Donors were blown away to receive a personal message from the manager through video.  Often the video would include a staff member and even the operator that took the donors call.  This was a first class way of saying thank you to a major donor, just minutes after they called the radio station.

WGTS in Washington DC took this idea and went a little further with it.  Station manager Kevin Krueger set up a small room that became the video studio during sharathon.  Once staff members would get off the air, they would exit into the video studio.  There was a professional open and close to the video that would be created for each donor that gave $500 or more.  The middle part of the video was personal.  Example, “Hey this is Bill Scott,  Karen, I just wanted you to know that your $1,000 gift has really meant a lot to me and the staff.  Karen, thank you for being part of the team and helping your WGTS change lives here in the DC area.”  My guess is each video was about 60 seconds long.  The feedback WGTS received from donors was amazing.  They were blown away to receive something that was really recorded just for them.  It doesn’t get much more personal than that.

Your donor want’s to know that their gift counted.  Even if your donor would never say this out loud to you and your staff, they want to be appreciated.  I know we send out a thank you letter with the donors name put into the letter, however, it’s been known for decades that this is a form letter generated by a computer.  With online giving we can now go a step further, be more personal and do so in a timely fashion.

I would think about saying thank you to your major donors in a few different ways during your next fundraising event.  1.) Take a phone and just make a very simple video thanking them for being part of the team.  Don’t make it long at all.  Thirty seconds can do the job, then email it to the donor.  2.)  Add production to the video, intro and out-tro with a personal message in the middle to the donor.  3.)  At the very least.  Sit down and send a very warm and personal email to your major donor and do so within about an hour of when the gift came in.

Your listeners have a lot of choices as to where to give their money.  All of us want to feel good about where we gave our money and if it’s a great experience, we’ll more than likely give again.  Below is an example of what WGTS did during the Spring sharathon.  I am not sure if this example has the donors name in it or not but this will give you the idea.

If you have any other methods you have used to thank your donors online, I sure would love to hear about it.  Post on the blog or email Bill@BillScottGroup.com.

Also, if you have an article you would like to share on this blog, please feel free to hit me up.

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