Once upon a time, a wealthy donor gifted Brandeis University to fund a new theatre building.
One day, five or ten years later, Brandeis students used that theatre to put on the Shakespearean play Hamlet.
After watching the play Dr. Abram Sacher, Brandeis’s founder, penned a short note to the theatre’s donor saying,
“I just attended a performance of Hamlet in your theatre. I wanted to let you know that the house was packed. The pleasure your theatre brought to the campus community was enormous. I just wanted to thank you again.”
A short while after sending his note, Dr. Sacher received a response in the mail.
An envelope holding a $1,000,000 check.
WOW, Avraham! That's incredible!
I agree. And so did FoodForThePoor, an American nonprofit that decided to turn Sacher’s idea into a social experiment.
At the start of the year, they split their donor database in two halves. Throughout that year, when donors in the first half sent donations, they received a thank-you note in the mail.
Donors in the second half also got a thank-you note after donating – plus an extra, independent note a few months later.
At the end of the year, FoodForThePoor went through their data. And discovered that the donors who’d received a second thank-you note had collectively given an extra $500,000.
All from one extra thank-you.
Friends, consider this equation:
30 cents (one decent-quality thank-you card and envelope) + 58 cents (one stamp) + .001 cent (a smidgeon of ink) = One. Million. Dollars.
Want to utilize this equation in your own fundraising? Here are the rules:
- After receiving a gift from a donor, send a thank-you.
- Wait a few months, then send another one – just because.
- Watch for excellent results
You can also riff on this formula. Some quick-and-easy suggestions:
- After an online campaign, thank all donors immediately. Then follow up with another thank-you a week later.
- When a new donor sends a gift, send back a thank-you – and then have a board member phone the donor and thank them live.
- For monthly donors, come up with small, creative ways to send thank-you’s each month. Send short thank-you videos, have some people your organization serves hand-make thank you cards, or mail your donor some photos of their gift at work.
You don’t need much time to get it right. Take a look at this photo of the handwritten note one of my clients pens to donors:
Thank-you’s are super-powerful.
Use them often.
And keep an eye on your mailbox. You might just find a million-dollar check inside.
Hatzlacha Raba in all your efforts,