They are two of the most powerful words we can say. Yet so often we useÂ them in such general ways. Someone holds a door for you and you whiskÂ in, saying thanks without so much as glancing at the person. SomeoneÂ allows you to merge into traffic this morning. You respond with a quick wave,Â mouthing thank you â€” and swoosh, youâ€™re gone.
What about when it is really important? When someone helps a parish or theÂ diocese meet its annual needs or transform itself, or perhaps when specialÂ needs must be addressed. How do you say thank you when it matters?Â Is your thank you a one-size-fits-all form letter? A message from the bishopÂ that is read by a lay person during announcements at one Mass?Â Thank you builds a relationship, increases understanding, and invitesÂ continued education. And while an important step, it shouldnâ€™t be confined toÂ acknowledging a financial transaction. At the time the gift is made, the needsÂ defined in the case statement are still a vision or are yet to be fulfilled.
ThisÂ communication of gratitude outlines the needs and expectations; builds theÂ understanding that gifts, joined together with support from others, creates aÂ better response; and confirms the work to be done.Â But do you also thank them as the work is completed? As the vision andÂ hope become reality â€“ services are provided, needs are met, and issues areÂ resolved â€“ is the celebration limited to those who delivered the work, or doÂ you invite all stakeholders to celebrate?
Complete the loop with donors â€“Â let them know what happened. Thanking donors once again reminds themÂ of the gift they made, confirms that work was accomplished, and buildsÂ understanding and support for areas of specific interest. These thanks donâ€™t need to be long, but must be specific. They also can be done frequently, assuming a broad appeal has multiple needs that are addressed at different times throughout the year, you can continue to share progress with each accomplishment.
At GP Catholic Services, we recognize that both the planning for a solicitation and how donors are treated following a gift are of equalÂ importance. Together these actions speak to the relationship you are working to foster, the way in which you will steward the funds, andÂ how you desire to advance the partnership with donors to address future needs.
Think of the â€œthank youâ€ as a starting point, not the end.
Three questions to askÂ yourself before youÂ express thanks:
1. Is it genuine?Â Although the comedian George Burns onceÂ said, â€œSincerity: if you can fake that, youâ€™veÂ got it made!,â€ there is no place for dishonestyÂ in stewardship.
2. Are you clear?Â Is your communication focused on theÂ message of thanks or is it mixed in with aÂ number of other messages?
3. How specific are you?Â Do you explain what you are thankful for? DoÂ you help the donor understand the impactÂ their gift had on the campaign goals or how itÂ changed a particular life?