After we meet with a donor, prospect or volunteer; especially for the first time, we fundraisers have the best of intentions to send a thoughtful hand-written thank-you note. We truly appreciate the gift of time that the individual has given us and we want to sincerely thank them for it. Plus, we know that most people don’t get many thank-you notes; especially hand-written ones, and we know the impact that they have on the recipient.
But what typically happens? That’s right—life happens. We go to back to the office and get buried in the flood of emails that piled up while we were away. Or we head home and go right into dinner prep, homework help, dog walking or other activities. Even if we add “Write thank you note to Susan” to our to-do list, three days often go by before we get to it — and promptness is a big key to success with thank-you notes.
As a self-proclaimed productivity nerd, this scenario drove me nuts for the first five years of my fundraising career. There had to be a better way to get these notes written and out promptly, without having them be just another stressor.
Finally, I found the solution. And it’s simple:
- Keep a set of thank-you cards and pre-stamped envelopes with you at all times (in your briefcase, car, purse, etc.).
- Before going into your meeting set out a note (my favorite spot for this is the passenger seat of my car) and pre-address it if you have time.
- Immediately after the meeting, write the note. Don’t put “Write thank-you note to Susan” on your to do list—actually write it! The details of your message will be fresh in your mind and it will be effortless.
- On your way into your house or office, drop the completed thank-you note into the outgoing mail.
That’s it, and it’s not rocket science. What does it require? It requires you creating a new habit. How long does that take? Typically, 30-45 days.
So stick with it and eventually writing thank-you notes will go on autopilot for you. I’ve been doing this for over a decade now and haven’t stressed out about a single note, and I’ve never missed sending one either. And that has made a big difference with the donors that I’ve had the pleasure of working with to make this world a better place.
This post first appeared as a part of Advancing Philanthropy: Perspectives – a free membership benefit of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). Check out more posts by @fundraiserchad for AFP.