One thank you too far …

30th January 2016

Recently I received thank you letters by two charities I don’t support.

Amazing! – I haven’t given them a penny, yet they managed to make me feel good about my generous nature.

But, let me explain. One is a letter from a large international relief and development charity which is thanking me for my support in such general terms that it could be a letter from any charity. They write: ‘We are very grateful for your support. Together we have fought poverty, etc.’

The other letter is from a small charity – I wrote their fundraising appeal last year and now I have got a letter saying ‘Thank you for your support. We raised £xxx through our latest appeal which exceeded our expectations.’ It is clear that this is a letter they have sent to everyone in their database though … not just me as their consultant.

I know I have not donated to these charities – so, why am I being thanked for support I have not given? I can accept the fact that the small charity has a lot to learn about donor segmentation, etc. But, imagine thousands of people receiving a thank you letter from the international development charity that makes them feel good about giving they have not done.

One thing I had done for the international development charity is participating is joining in on their campaigns – signing petitions, etc. Yet, my only good deed had gone unacknowledged. I guess the social media guys are not in talking terms with the donor relations team.

Both charities missed the opportunity to write to non-givers (like me) a letter that said …’we know you care otherwise why would you be in our mailing list… today you have a chance to right the wrongs of poverty/ or to help young people by making your first gift.’

Fundraising lessons from this situation:

1. Take time to evaluate your segmentation procedures.  What are you sending out to different donor groups? Why? What are you seeking in return?

2. Evaluate your thank you letters or other general mailing packages. Are they old and tired and generalistic? Are you or your CEO signing letters or email updates off that don’t sound at all like you or them? Authentic communications win the day.

3. Get rid of silos – get people within each team and from different departments to work more closely and purposefully together.