A gift from a first-time donor to most charities sets in motion a process that should be more or less automatic, and ideally, well-thought out. Our KMA whitemail experiment produced very uneven welcomes.
(In the table below I have compiled the responses.)
But rather than complain about lackluster responses, I am focusing on four that stood out.
The top of the heap for me was the major Canadian university. You can read about that here.
Then there is the environmental organization, mentioned here because their response was so comprehensive. I made an online gift and got the expected instant acknowledgement. Then I received a package in the mail which included a personalized welcome and thanks, and material that restated the case, outlined the monthly giving club, the legacy club, gifts over $1000 club and roles for volunteer/advocates. All of it was well done, but it was a bit like walking into a big department store – it’s all there but how do I find what fits?
One I truly admired was from the charity I have categorized as “Social service - women – local.” I applaud their attention to detail and precise outline of what I could expect.
To start, it addressed both my wife and me, and her name was first on the letter – as it is on the cheque we submitted. This is a pet peeve of my wife, that charity communications often ignore her existence and role. This group paid close attention.
The letter also named the amount of the gift, noted the enclosed program brochure, and stated a simple thank you.
There followed one paragraph stating their case for support – what they do.
Next came two valuable and important paragraphs. The first told me what to expect. The second told me how to engage.
We will keep you informed about our work through our ______ newsletter which contains inspirational stores and program updates as well as important information on upcoming events. Please visit our website _____ for the latest ___ news.
If you have any questions about the work of ____ or would like to get more involved, please contact (name, title, phone and email provided.)
A “Sincerely” and an authentic personal signature from the CEO finished the letter.
It’s simple and direct. It’s great. Because the letter and brochure came very quickly and included the receipt, and the envelope was stamped “tax receipt enclosed,” it checks all the boxes: warm, professional, efficient, clear, personal and informative. The brief thank-you phone call I received shortly afterwards sealed the deal – the people running that development program are top drawer.
Similarly, I applaud the charity we categorize as “Hospital foundation - regional catchment.”
Their tone is a bit more sentimental, and they welcome you to the “family.” They include a refrigerator magnet, “and hope you display it proudly.” Interesting, the enclosed brochure is more about donors than about the work they do. The letter includes the receipt, and the envelope is stamped “Your welcome package is enclosed.”
The tone of each example is different but the fundamentals are firmly in play. The goal should be to communicate that someone in authority knows about the gift, and to cultivate the donor for a second gift. These are exemplary.
Next: Asking for the second gift