How to Hold a Thankathon for Your Donors

Continuing in my theme of “count your blessings,” I’m encouraging everyone to consider their wonderful donors as great blessings to the cause.

Donor: “How do I thank thee? Let me count the ways.”

When I started in fundraising at Duke University, we had a great saying: “Find seven ways to thank your donors and they will give again!” And another saying was: “Hopefully the first gift is not the last or the largest!”

The Benevon newsletter for this week had a great “how-to” article on donor thankathons:

With Thanksgiving upon us here in the U.S., now is the perfect time to call your donors just to say “thank you.”

Start by making your list of who you will call. Consider how many donors you have had in the last year. Choose a dollar threshold over which you will call. For example, start with all donors who have given you over $1,000, then move to all those who gave between $500 and $999.

Put together your core team of three to five callers, made up of people of some stature within your organization. Ideally, these will be board members and volunteers who enjoy talking with people and are well organized. If you put staff members on the team, there should be no more than one staff caller for every three volunteer callers. One of the staff callers should be the executive director. Do not “require” that anyone be a caller; rather, you want to have callers who choose to participate and will enjoy doing it.

Either bring them all together for an evening of eggnog and cookies, or dole out the lists and have them call from home or office. Daytime calls and leaving messages are fine.

The script goes something like this:

“Hello, may I please speak to _________? My name is ___________, I’m on the board of _________. I was just calling to say thank you for your support this year. It has allowed us to expand/maintain our ___________ programs. We’ve been able to offer our services to _____ more families/children in our community. Thank you.”

If the caller actually reaches a real person, they may chat a bit. The caller should be prepared with a few general facts, but needn’t feel they need to take a cram course before they’re qualified to get on the phone. They can always refer the question to a staff member for a call back.

What are you telling the donor with this call?

* We noticed you gave.
* Your gift to our organization mattered.
* We appreciate you.

That’s exactly what a donor needs to know to keep giving year after year.

Starting now—and throughout the holidays—remember to say thank you (by phone or in person) and let donors know what their gift allowed you to do.