By Molly Fast
It’s not uncommon for me to receive several requests each month to support various
friends, co-workers, family and random acquaintances in their fundraising efforts for the causes which mean the most to them. Having recently started to spend money according to a budget, I have a set amount aside each month in which I can donate. (Note to people asking me for donations; ask at the beginning of the month before that spending line is zeroed out!) Most requests are heartfelt and include a personal story that helps me better understand why my donation matters and what it would mean, not just to the individual, but to their connection to the cause.
What I’m finding now, however, is that just as important as having a careful, personal and passionate fundraising ask, the potential to really hit it home comes in the words you choose to thank your donor.
I was taught at a very early age about the importance of a thank you letter. Upon receiving a gift, my mother’s expectation was that me and my sisters would turn right around and take the time to thank the person for their gift and tell them what it meant to us. All these years later, without the urging of my mother, I still practice this seemingly dwindling art regularly. I love writing letters and have an impressive (some may say unnecessary) stationery collection to support this habit.
I received a thank you letter recently from my friend and former Event 360 colleague, Ruth-Anne, and warned her that it was so good that it’d likely turn into a blog post. Her event has since passed, but her words have stuck with me. In fact, her thank you note left me feeling grateful that she asked me to donate and provided me with an opportunity to be a small part of the experience for her and for those who would benefit from my donation.
Ruth-Anne’s thank you note contained three important elements that instilled confidence and goodwill. It made me feel more included in her journey and more inspired to support her cause. Consider these when it comes to crafting the perfect thank you note for someone who has supported your fundraising efforts:
- Explain why this donation is important to you
- Tell your donor what difference their donation is going to make for the people whose lives will be impacted by it
- Educate your donor on where the funds go
Ruth-Anne let me know that the donation meant a lot to her. She said, “It motivates me to continue my training for the Wrigley Field Road Tour 100 mile ride benefiting World Bicycle Relief and Cubs Charities.” She went on to tell me how powerful these events are in moving our hearts and encouraging us to do more than we think we can. “It is so good to work hard for something and something that helps make a difference.” That alone made me realize the importance of my donation and reminded me that many of us are fueled by the emotional and financial support of our donors. Don’t overlook this important point. It helps more than you know, and helps participants stay committed and on course to the goal they’ve set financially and physically.
But it didn’t stop there. By the time Ruth-Anne was done thanking me, I learned that the money I donated funded a bicycle that would be provided to a student in a small African community. A young girl could now get to school safely because of a donation I made. Wow. I loved learning how big of a difference my small donation was going to make in the life of a stranger I’d never meet. It made me feel even better about supporting Ruth-Anne and this cause that meant so much to her.
Furthermore, I learned that my donation, coupled with Ruth-Anne’s commitment to this event, was helping to achieve the goals of World Bicycle Relief. “When you provide a bicycle to a student in need, you help reverse the cycle of poverty in rural Africa. World Bicycle Relief is providing 50,000 students (70% girls), teachers, and educational workers with specially designed, locally assembled bicycles, providing access to education, healthcare and economic opportunity.”
I learned so much and felt so great about the contribution I made that I became more invested in Ruth-Anne’s cause and her experience on the ride. And on August 19th, Ruth-Anne and her husband logged 100 miles and raised over $13,900 providing over 100 bikes for school girls in Africa. I played a very small part in that, but with Ruth-Anne’s impactful thank you, I learned that I made a bigger impact than I could have ever known.
By the time I was done reading Ruth-Anne’s heartfelt thank you, I felt like I was the one who owed her a thank you for giving me an opportunity to make such an important impact. Imagine how much easier it’d be to re-engage your donors if this is how your thank you note left them? As you construct your own letter, keep in mind the power and potential you have to bring your donors along for an educated, impactful and mission-focused ride that starts and ends with the power of your thank you note.