Zappos.com is an online shoe and apparel store whose mission is to deliver happiness through a philosophy of WOW! It has built an entire culture around these WOW! experiences by providing exemplary customer service. Because of this commitment to their customers, Zappo's is now the gold standard for customer service.
Ever wonder if your organization could do the same? You may think this has nothing to do with your mission of helping the homeless or saving the planet, but you need donors. And with donor retention stats as horrible as they are, you need to create WOW! experiences to keep them coming back.
A WOW! experience starts with the "Thank you." You must send a thank you letter after receiving a gift. Donors want to be thanked and they want to be thanked properly. Don't use typical nonprofit speak with statistics and jargon.
10 Components of an Ideal Thank-You Letter:
1. Speed - send your thank you letters preferably within 48 hours but no more than a week.
2. Spread Joy - let them know they are a hero.
3. Personalize - do not use "Dear Friend" letters or postcards. Use their name.
4. Reference the gift amount and date.
5. What was the gift for and how you are using it.
6. Acknowledge past giving.
7. Don't highlight the boring stuff - tax deductible and legal terms can be added in fine print at the bottom.
8. Don't forget the PS - drive them to your blog, Facebook page, etc.
9. Give the reader a contact person - someone they can contact directly.
10. Never, ever ask for a second gift in a thank you letter.
What else can you do to WOW your donors?
- Phone calls. Call to thank donors - not solicit from them. Get your board members and volunteers involved.
- Regular Surveying. People love to be asked for advice. Ask why your regular supporters keep contributing. Ask why new donors decided to give to you.
- Gifts. Nothing big or expensive, but send something fun to your major donors to let them know you are thinking about them.
- Get your board involved. Have them make donor thank you calls or handwrite letters.
- Welcome Kits. Send a package that thanks them and encourages them to get more involved.
- Social Media. Use Facebook, Twitter or YouTube to say thank you.
- Communicate more not less. I don't mean soliciting. Provide great content and tell good stories. Think in term of touches. How often do you reach out to your donors? I recommend between 12-24 times a year.
- Celebrate. Send out cards not just for Christmas, but for birthdays, Thanksgiving or other holidays when you may get more attention.
Don't forget about online donors. Walk through every step of your online donation process. Where does the donor land after making the gift? Does the donor receive an immediate receipt or thank you email? With online giving going up, you need to make sure your online donors are getting the same attention as your offline supporters.
When your donors are WOWed, they will continue to support your cause and become lifetime contributors. You need to make your donor not only feel appreciated, but also feel like a friend. The sooner you start treating everyone who has given to your organization as a friend, the closer your organization is to creating lifetime donors.