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Thoughts on Giving Thanks at Thanksgiving

Lori Halley 22 November 2012 0 comments

Happy Thanksgiving to our American friends celebrating the holiday!

As we take time to give thanks and celebrate with family, it’s also a time to reflect on how we’re thanking our supporters. So following our tradition of commemorating both the American and Canadian Thanksgiving,  here are some thoughts and a round-up of insightful posts on the impact of saying thanks to supporters.

Is saying thanks the key to retaining supporters?

In her call for submissions for this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival,  Pamela Grow reminds us that retaining existing donors is less expensive than gaining new ones so “Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude” is critical. Pamela notes that according to the 2012 Fundraising Effectiveness Report from the Association of Fundraising Professionals, “It usually costs less to retain and motivate an existing donor than to attract a new one.” Their research confirmed that “every $100 gained in 2011 was offset by $100 in losses through attrition” and “every 100 donors gained in 2011 was offset by 107 in lost donors through attrition.”

So how can you retain existing donors?

Back in September, we looked at the issue of donor retention (in our post Giving Donors What They Want)  and the debate around how to keep donors, especially online donors engaged. In the post we discussed the fact that as Julie Damon suggested in Move your Online Donors Offline? You Must Be Crazy (Branded Out Loud), “the real issue with online donors being one-hit-wonders isn’t that the donations are made online, but that many nonprofits don’t have a great process in place to retain donors that are NOT obtained through direct mail campaigns.” We agreed that it isn’t just about the medium, it’s also about the message. Donors - whether they give online or off - want to receive a heart-felt thank you as well as hearing about the impact their donation made.

In fact, as we noted in our post honoring Canadian Thanksgiving back in October (Time for Giving Thanks), “[a]dding the handwritten note improved the response rate by one third to 48%.”  

Three Thoughtful Thanksgiving Posts

Here are some thoughtful blog posts that we’ve bookmarked on Apricot Jam  this week that remind us about the power of giving thanks:

5 Ways to Say Thanks

In her Thanksgiving On My Mind: 5 Ways to Say Thanks,  Joanne Fritz reminds us: “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold.”  

Joanne suggests you take time to thank donors: “Phone, write, email, text, make a personal call, hold a donor event - just do something and do it often. Yes, maybe long term donors and those who give a lot are thanked more lavishly, but any donor of any means is worth thanking sincerely, promptly, and personally, every time they give.”

Check out Joanne’s other tips for saying thanks - here.

A New Kind of Nonprofit Appeal for Thanksgiving

In this post, Jill Havlat (nonprofithub) suggests that “for many nonprofit fundraising teams, gratitude is muddied with bids for future gifts. Some organizations thank donors because they don’t want to spoil their chances of receiving future donations. It’s a commonsense fundraising strategy, but not an innovative one.”

Havlat recommends that nonprofits consider creating “sustainability plans—which combine financial performance and social impact in every decision—that incorporate gratitude.”

Gratitude’s great ripple effect - “upstream reciprocity”

Speaking of gratitude, a great blog post by Katya Andresen suggests that there’s a lot more to saying thanks or showing gratitude than simply retaining supporters.

Earlier this month, in her post, Here’s some happy research: Gratitude’s great ripple effect,  Katya Andresen reported on a research paper - the Journal of Happiness - that “discusses how we feel gratitude when someone helps us - and when we see someone being generous to someone else.  And in either of those cases, we are often inspired to go help other people.  Even strangers.  The researchers call this “upstream reciprocity.”

The research concluded that:  “gratitude broadens individuals’ perspectives of their current environment and causes them to transfer the goodwill that they received to other people they will encounter in the future.”

So - saying thanks and showing gratitude to supporters (as well as our families, colleagues and friends) can have a huge impact on our world as well as on your organization's fundraising and donor retention!

More from the Nonprofit Blog Carnival - next week

For additional insight on "Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude” be sure to visit Pamela Grow’s Blog after Nov. 27th for her Nonprofit Blog Carnival round-up for November.


Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Thursday, 22 November 2012 at 2:38 PM
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