How to thank too much

Tom Ahern

Line in the sand: R U boring me?

Patti D. shared this pungent email from a committed donor:

I wanted to tell you that it is not necessary, or even desirable, to keep sending me thank you letters every month for my little monthly donations.

I don’t need to get them, and I think its a waste of time and money on your part to send them every month.

One thank you at the end of the year is sufficient for me and I am sure most, if not all, your donors.

Donors don’t need to be thanked so often and don’t want to see the non-profit orgs we donate to waste your precious funds and time sending thank you letters every month.

Can you discuss this with your team to stop sending the monthly thank yous at least to me, but I strongly suggest to every monthly donor?

As I say, one thank you at the end of the year, with an official list of the donations for tax purposes, would be all that is necessary, and desired by reg. donors.

That’s just one person’s opinion, of course. But in my view it’s clearly “actionable.” (Which is researcher-talk: just means, “Yeah, this is valid feedback. We should pay attention.”)

Advice to Patti D.

A. Gotta respond to this guy. It was a lot of trouble to write that long note. Clearly, she/he cares.
B. Looks like you’ve gotten big enough (and wonderful enough) to ask your donors — maybe annually or every two years — about their communications preferences?

I’d wait until AFTER a donor has made a second gift. That way, they’ve had some experience of the kinds of stuff you’ll be sending.

If you’re boring me, I’ll tell you to ratchet it down. If you’re pleasing me, I’ll tell you, “Keep ’em flying!”

Surveying donors for their “personal communications preferences” is NEVER a bad thing = builds relationships.
Patti: I don’t know what CRM you’re using, but forward-looking CRMs should allow you to specify exactly which kinds of comms any specific donor wants to get.

This is a fundamental customer-service issue.
Monthly thanks are a bit of a conundrum, I admit.
I PREFER giving to charities monthly.

But them sending me the same thanks 12 times a year (even if it’s kinda wonderful) gets old fast.

The chemical principle beneath all this is simple: when I/you make a gift my/your brain releases 3 different pleasant drugs (dopamine, for example).

SO, reasonably speaking: Would I rather get that “philanthropic high” 12 times a year … or just once (because I gave annually instead of monthly).

The answer is clear: 12 is better than once.
BUT … big caveat … if my charity’s boring, repetitive, predictable, robotic method of thanking me is maybe (who knows?) even suppressing that monthly release of chemicals (as it seems to be with the person who emailed you) … then, yup, you have to come up with an alternative.
I don’t know if this helps. But these are my initial thoughts.
~ tom ahern –

  • : Tom Ahern