How Many Thank-Yous Will I Get This Year?

Photo by Orin Zebest on Flickr

Photo by Orin Zebest on Flickr

I just donated $20 each to 10 national charities via the Capital One No Hassle Giving site, using my credit card miles. Want to guess how many thank-you notes I’ll get?

I’m not talking about the automated emails that Network for Good, the payment processor, sends. I received those immediately. I’m talking about real thank-you notes from the charities.

I call this the “What I Got When I Gave” experiment, and when I did the same thing last year, the results were dismal. I heard back from only a third of the charities and the follow-up even from the ones I heard from has been limited to non-existent over the last year.

The original purpose of this experiment was to learn how some of the nation’s top nonprofits cultivate new donors through communications over time. That’s hard to do when they don’t communicate with donors at all.

Will this year’s recipients do a better job? I’ll let you know  in January.

Thank you notes aren’t the last step you take after receiving a gift; they are the first step you take in receiving the second gift. If you want some help learning how to write a really amazing thank you note that helps turn a one-time donor into a long-term supporter, join us on Thursday, December 17 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern (Noon Pacific) for our next webinar, “Writing Thank You Notes that Inspire Future Gifts.”

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  • Hi Kivi

    Great post. Based on my experience I rekcon you’ll get between 5-7 thank you’s. I’ve spent a big chunk of the last 10 years mystery shopping charities all around the world and typically levels of thanking vary between 50% and 70%. See one post I wrote about this a while back (I have a few posts about this).

    Keep up the great work. And enjoy the 5 or 7 thank you’s! 🙂


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  • You’re absolutely right, that personal touch coming from a non-profit you just donated to really makes an impression in my opinion.

    Kivi what do you think about sending thank you notes via email to save cost? Will the giver feel like we’re being more responsible but cutting costs or cheated out of sincerity?

  • I love your experiment! I did something similar and the results shocked me. While you’re checking in on the larger nonprofits, I was curious about the small nonprofits. Not only were the thank-you notes non-existent, some recipients actually sent emails implying that the donation was not enough!

  • I love the experiement to gauge follow up. That certainly is a core to any relationship building effort. It’s always striking how much money is allocated towards marketing initiatives to recruit new consumers, always more. Once you have an audience that signals an offering may serve a particular need, don’t drop the ball.

    It comes down to a question of capacity and whether it’s more sensible to develop veteran consumers or constantly cycle new business in and out.

  • Sarah Anderson

    I wouldn’t mind a thank you email, but I’d be a bit leery of wasting trees and adding more garbage to the landscape by sending a paper one in the mail to me. Not to mention I’d wonder how much of my $20 was going to finance the promotional, administrative and mailing costs. It’s a balancing act.

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