The Nonprofit Thank-a-thon

As a board member and fundraising committee representative, I was recently asked to explain a nonprofit thank-a-thon at a board meeting.  To me, it seems kind of obvious.  But I live in the development world.

What it is
Put simply, a nonprofit thank-a-thon offers board members a way to thank donors WITHOUT an additional ask.  In an age where it is standard to attach a donation reply slip to thank you letters as well as to ask for money at events that donors have paid to attend, it is nice to have a few outlets that remain modest yet gracious methods for nonprofits to thank their donors without asking for anything in return.

The Logistics
Historically, a phone bank was required so that everyone could sit in a room and make the calls.  An office was usually donated so that the outgoing calls would have a legitimate caller ID.  That still happens from time to time (Condon Realty in Needham, MA has donated their space to my organization in the past and deserves a shout out) but it is often more feasible to have board members bring their cell phones and chargers (just in case) to a house where they can sit around and make the calls.

The Script
Armed with a list of donors – big and small alike – and a script, each board member makes calls to thank donors for their support over the past year.  Keep the script very simple.  Something like, “Thank you so much for your support of X organization this year.  You have helped us _________ (insert one data-driven fact here)___ and we just wanted to let you know that we really appreciate your support. I hope you have a nice evening.“

Why Do This?

  1. Donors will be surprised when they receive the call or hear the voice message; and they will hang up with a smile on their face and your nonprofit on their mind.
  2. Board members can do something that is helpful to fundraising but does not require them to ask people for money.
  3. And, as a bonus gift to board members, it feels really good.  Good as in the reason they first joined the board and wanted to help make it a better place and now they have made others feel that same way about the organization.

The thank-a-thon is a win-win-win-win for donors, board members, stewardship plans and, above all, donor retention strategies. Not bad for a couple hours of easy calls.