The Thank You Test

| by Mendi Nieters

I’m not going to lie.  My boys are a bit spoiled. They are surrounded by family and friends who shower them with love, attention, and almost every toy that exists at Target. At this stage in their life, they don’t realize how lucky they are, but I am determined to make sure they are grateful. 

Over July 4th, my boys spent a few days at my sister-in-law’s house. This was not a first-time occurrence. They had so much fun last time they’ve taken to calling her, as well as the experience, “Camp Lisa.” Aunt Lisa’s, or better yet, Camp Lisa is now a destination experience!

On the drive home, our little man fell asleep, but the big man spent over an hour recounting the experience step by step.  We had to play the silent game to get him to stop. Now two weeks later, one thing remains – a thank you note! While we have had this discussion repeatedly, my children have still not picked up the crayons and created their “thank you” masterpiece. I promise you this, the thank you note will be completed by this weekend or else.

We all know why this is important, but the reminder is critical. I have been in many nonprofits and the excitement and joy that occurs when a gift arrives is infectious.  I know one office that has a bell ready to be rung when gifts of a certain nature come in. I also have a friend who has an impressive dance just for these moments. The real question remains – do your supporters feel that level of excitement in exchange? I bet you they felt that excitement when they initiated their gift.   

Just like any good Cosmo article, take this quick test to challenge your stewardship skills. Give yourself one point for each yes.

  1. Do you have a stewardship plan?
  2. Do you change your acknowledgement letters on a regular basis?
  3. Are you acknowledging gifts within 24 hours?
  4. Are you calling donors to personally thank them for their gifts?
  5. Do you utilize board members or those receiving impact from your mission to thank donors?
  6. Are you sharing your story of impact with your supporters?
  7. How frequently are you sharing your story of impact within a year?  You get a point for each occurrence.
  8. Are you personalizing the acknowledgement making it meaningful for the donor?
  9. Are you connecting your donor to the larger issues surrounding your mission?
  10. Do you create opportunities for donors to get more engaged with your mission? 

How did you do?

-        Less than 5:

No time like now to pause, think about those who donate to your organization, and create a year-round stewardship plan to continue to engage your community with your mission.  Better yet, have a few conversations with your top donors.  Ask them how they want to be acknowledged and what they want to know.

-        Greater than 5:

I hope this list caused you to stop and reflect on ways to focus your stewardship activities so that your supporters know what a good investment your organization is.

Now I am off to teach my boys a bit more about good stewardship.  At the very least they will want an invite back to “Camp Lisa” next summer!

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