Seven is the magic “thank you” number for major gifts.
What is it about seven? The seven colors of the rainbow? My guess is the tradition of thanking donors seven times was someone’s measurable translation of “a lot.” It drives us beyond the usual two or three. It works.
What might seven major donor thank yous look like?
1) Acknowledgement of receipt of check: Call within 48 hours
2) Legal thank you: The one you are required to do. The letter that acknowledges the gift in writing for tax purposes. Don’t stop here!
3) Board Chair or Board Member thank you: A call, perhaps (leaving a message is fine)
4) Executive Director thank you note separate from the legal thank you
5) Solicitor Team member thank you
6) Development Director thank you
7) “Re-thank you” within 6 months describing/updating use of funds (Really important!)
8) Free cultivation/recognition event
9) Recognition in Newsletter, Annual Report or Program Book (much less personal—I would count this as ½)
10) Other forms of recognition depending on the magnitude of the gift: donor walls, podium recognition at events or a press release, if warranted
Thank yous are the time for calls, handwritten notes and snail mail. Email thank yous can be part of the mix, but only part. Be up close and personal. And don’t forget to extend the thank you process with a “re-thank you” down the road.
In addition to genuinely acknowledging a major gift, thank yous play an important role in inspiring your donor to make yet another gift in the future.