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How good are charities at thanking donors?

Does your charity thank all its donors? How? How quickly? And is there a lower amount below which you don’t thank donors?
Research into how UK charities thank donors has been published by fundraising consultancy John Grain Associates (JGA). Their premise, based on 12 years of consultancy experience, was that

“our experience continues to be that strategically and organisationally this area often remains the poor relation of fundraising. We wanted to see if others felt the same.”

The company surveyed over 100 charities over the summer and found that:


An introduction to AI for charity professionals by Ross Angus

On the other hand over 25% of charities in the survey made the effort “always or often” to send handwritten thank-you’s to acknowledge gifts.

Thanks a million, says Macmillan Cancer Support

Thanks a million, says Macmillan Cancer Support

Measuring thanking

Not surprisingly, 80% of respondents felt that supporter care was strategically important to their charity. However, less than 40% actually measured thanking effectiveness in any way. Of those that did, more than 90% only did so in terms of how quickly they thanked supporters.
On this issue the report found that:

“Almost one third [of respondents] aim for a thank you within two days and a further 44% have a target of between three and five days”.

JGA’s Client Services Manager Jaimie Stevenson-Miller said:

“The report gives us some great insights into how we, as a sector, approach thanking. While there is much to be applauded and be proud of, there is also much to be concerned about, and while we might talk a good game when it comes to thanking and supporter care we would conclude our actions don’t always back up our words.”

Thank you box

Saying thank you

Supporting the Commission on the Donor Experience

The research was also commissioned to contribute to the Thanking and Welcoming project which is part of the Commission on the Donor Experience.
The report expresses the author’s disappointment at the level of engagement with the research:

“So, despite the many press articles criticising fundraising methods and exposing some very poor practices in some instances, and despite the changes to the Institute of Fundraising’s Codes of Practice and the new Fundraising Regulator, and despite the plenty of column inches and presentations devoted to the importance of supporter retention, supporter journeys, stewardship, donor care and a myriad other associated terms, it would appear that a somewhat apathetic view of the value and importance of thanking remains the case for many fundraisers and for many charities.”

The report is available to download for free from John Grain Associates. It includes full analysis and interpretation and contains eighteen specific conclusions about how well charities really thank those generous enough to support them.