Thanking Your Way to Higher Income

Just go with me on this…You and I are good friends. I call you up one day and ask for you to do me a big favor…Drive across town in rush hour traffic, pick me up and take me to the airport, which is about 30 miles away.  
You don’t really want to give up the time but we are friends, so you tell me you’re on the way. When I get in the car, I never stop talking about myself.  I never once ask you about your family, your job or your life. It’s like I don’t even care about that.  Then, as I am leaving, I ask you for $10 to buy a sandwich to take on the plane.  You grab your wallet and hand me $20.  I offer you a quick “thanks man” and before you know it, I’m gone.
As you drive away, how do you feel about me?  Chances are, not very good.  How are you going to respond next time I ask you for help?  I’m pretty sure that if I ever did treat a friend like that, my next call would go to straight to voice mail hell, aren’t you?
Sadly, this is how we are treating our donors and we don’t even know it.  And we wonder why 40-60% of them leave us after making just one gift.  If you could get more of your donors to stick with you long enough to make a second, third, or fourth gift, you’d raise more money. It’s simple…Keep more, raise more.  But how?
Thanking donors properly and making them feel appreciated is an art form.  And, there are some little tricks to doing it that most Christian radio stations are missing.  Tricks I’m about to share with you right now:
Little Trick #1:
It’s about THEM not YOU.  I know, you’ve heard that one before.  But seriously, you aren’t getting it.  Your receipt letters, statements and Lord knows, your precious little newsletter that you love so much…They are all about YOU.  That’s like me talking about myself the entire way during our car ride.  
When was the last time you told the story of a donor who is proud to support your work?  How about…Never?  I’m talking about a profile with a photo and a quote that’s played up just as much as your volunteer of the month or your staff member of the year.  Put donors on the air, talking about why they give.  Let them tell everyone how your work is meaningful to THEM.  Like a pied piper, they’ll lead others to follow in their footsteps.
Little Trick #2:
Don’t put yourself between your donors and results.  We do this all the time.  “Your gift of $25 will help Station X reach more people for Christ.”  Oh, really?  So you want me to give to your ministry so you can do God’s work.  I have to tell you, that doesn’t excite me.  Do you know what does?  “Your next gift of $25 will reach more people for Christ.”  See the difference?  My gift impacts results.  Directly.  Cut out the middle man…You.
Little Trick #3:
Thank them specifically.  It’s tough to report results, but you have to find a way to do it.  Tell donors what you did with their last gift before you ask them for the next one.  Report statistics and outcomes for the left brain and share stories about impact for the right brain.  Track how many times your station presents the gospel at events.  Track the response.  Set goals, achieve them and share the numbers.  Report and let donors know their last gift made a difference.
Little Trick #4:
Make your “thank you” as personal as possible.  I am subject to arrest by the fundraising police for saying this, but I don’t care if your receipts get out the door in 24 hours.  Take a little extra time to personalize your receipt letters and make them look nice. That’s a lot better than some receipt form printed on a crappy printer and crammed into a #10 window envelope like a crummy bill or late payment notice.  Send a thank you note.  A hand written thank you note.  Or at least a mail merge letter thanking for the exact gift they made, telling how it will be used and using their NAME…Spelled correctly, of course!
Little Trick #5:
Mix it up. Sometimes you need to send a handwritten note, sometimes a mail merge letter, other times an email, and still other times, a phone call.  This shows that you are not a machine, but an organization run by real humans.  You can also add variety to your thank you letters by enclosing recent photos or something the donor can keep and use like book mark or pen.   If you’re a child care agency, get the kids involved!  Send donors hand-drawn artwork with big “THANK YOU” messages on it.  Once in a while, invite donors to an appreciation event just for them.  No asking, just thanking.
Dear Christian Radio,
I hope these little tricks help you. They’re not the only ones out there, but they should get you started. What has worked for you? Leave your ideas in the comments section, please.  And I promise next time I call, I won’t be asking for a ride.


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