Why ‘thank you’ might be the most important thing you could say to supporters this Christmas

Howard Lake | 26 October 2018 | Blogs

As is the case for so many fundraisers, we are well in the thick of Christmas campaign planning. We’re thinking long and hard about the importance of taking a donor-centric approach, without shying away from the all-important ask.

But – now and again – that’s what we do – we strip out the ask altogether. We simply call to say thank you and it’s incredible how powerful those calls can be.

This got me thinking: should we – as a sector – be doing things differently this Christmas? Traditionally a time for giving, what if charities were to use the festive period to give back to supporters, thanking them for all they have done?


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The power of saying thank you

Last year’s recommendations from the Commission on the Donor Experience highlights the immense potential for charities to use the phone to thank supporters. And we couldn’t agree more. We’ve found that a sincere and heartfelt thank you call, tailored to that individual, can have a tremendous impact, particularly when it comes to nurturing supporter relationships.

No fundraising ask. Quotation on background of two mini Christmas trees.
No fundraising ask. No ask of any kind. Just a genuine thank you.

When charity communications are so often a request for help, making a personal call to say ‘thanks’ is a unique opportunity to let supporters know just how valued they are.

No fundraising ask.   No ask of any kind.   Just a genuine thank you.

You might say it on behalf of your CEO, from everyone at your organisation, or on behalf of your beneficiaries.

Essentially, it’s an opportunity to put your supporters first; to remind them that so much of the vital work you undertake could not happen without them and how much they have enabled the charity to achieve.

Nothing beats the human touch. A call gives you the opportunity to connect with the person at the other end of the phone. Think about what can you do to make them feel truly valued, so that this call will really make their day, how it can be positive and memorable. Will you make them smile? Will the call change the way they see your charity? What will they tell their friends and family about the experience?

The impact of a thank you call

In one thank you campaign that we delivered for a client over the Christmas period, we spoke to 8,500 supporters to say a massive thank you and, where relevant, asked supporters to confirm their future contact preferences.
Above all, we wanted to deepen supporter relationships and make sure they felt truly treasured. But the results of the campaign and insight it offered were far greater and more wide-ranging than many might have expected.

Arguably the most obvious but no less important finding was that supporters were genuinely surprised and happy to receive the call. People often assume that supporters don’t want to be called, but the feedback received was hugely positive, and, importantly, there were no complaints at all.

Most supporters wanted to hear from the charity again and we secured a new email consent rate of 35%. This meant the charity could better understand not only how supporters wanted to hear from them in the future, but now had a range of options to continue building those relationships.

Deepening understanding of your supporter base

The impact of a great call is further reaching than just the feel-good factor of the call itself. Ultimately, these conversations enable us to build our knowledge and understanding of supporters.

During this particular campaign, we identified 55 vulnerable donors, which enabled the charity to adapt the way it communicates with those people accordingly and to offer them added support. Three legacy pledgers also identified themselves during the calls, helping the charity to see how connected those individuals feel to the cause and how best to communicate with them in the future.

Of course, I had no sooner put pen to paper to write this blog when up popped this great piece from Richard Turner about Solar Aid’s Thanks A Million campaign, sharing how well a simple thank you call worked for them.

So, what if we could collectively turn Christmas on its head and make it less about the ask and more about voicing a genuine, well-delivered thank you to supporters across the country?

Supporter engagement and public trust has never been more important. Now is the time to reassess the power of a simple thank you.

NTT Fundraising is launching a year-long research project measuring the effect of thank you calls on supporter engagement and charitable giving. Charities interested in participating are encouraged to get in touch at nb*****@nt************.uk before 16th November.

Natalie Bailey is a director and co-owner of NTT Fundraising. Having worked in the sector since 2005, her primary focus is in ensuring the highest quality in charity telephone marketing and is continually reviewing and developing successful fundraising campaigns. 

At NTT Fundraising, one of the UK’s leading telephone agencies, her clients include GOSHCC, Dogs Trust, Alzheimer’s Society, Macmillan Cancer Support and WWF UK. Whilst she is passionate about the use of the telephone to deliver personal and genuine supporter engagement, she is also recognised for her work in the development of charity/supporter communication strategies and donor development journeys.