There are 3 things that your donors need to hear from you.  They absolutely must hear these things!  And the sooner they hear them, and the more vividly and clearly the message is communicated, the better!

The three things a donor must hear from you (as soon as possible) are:

  • I got your gift
  • I appreciate it
  • It is making a difference

Let's take a look at each of these in greater depth.

1. I got your gift

Donors want to know that you actually received the funds that they sent, and the quicker that they can get that information, the better.  It is easy to receive a gift and in the busyness of ministry (or life in general) to say to yourself, "I will thank them tomorrow."

And, we all know that tomorrow often doesn't come for several weeks or several months as other, apparently more urgent issues push saying "Thank you" to the bottom of our agenda.

There are certain times when a quick acknowledgement of the gift is critically important.  Some of these times might be:

  • When it is the first gift from that donor: Let them know right away that the contribution was received.  A phone call, an e-mail, something very quick is important here, and it should be followed up with a more formal written thank you.
  • When it is a regular supporter, and they have increased the amount of their contribution: this needs to be identified and acknowledged as soon as possible as well.
  • When it is a regular supporter who has fallen behind in their support, and they have started catching up: if you have been monitoring giving patterns, and you noticed a supporter who has fallen behind starting to give again, be sure to send that thank you quickly.  It will mean a lot to them to know that you noticed and expressed appreciation.
  • When it is a supporter who has lapsed in giving and has given again: be sure to communicate your appreciation for them starting to support you again.  It will reinforce the good feelings that they have for renewing their support.
  • When it is a major gift for that supporter: Here, we are not just referring to the amount of the gift, but to the amount of the gift to that donor.
The last thing you want a donor thinking is, "I wonder if they got the money.  The organization sent me a receipt, but did it really get where I wanted it to go?"   Don't let them wonder that. 

Let the donor know that you got the gift.


2. I appreciate it

The second thing that a donor absolutely must hear from you is that you appreciate the gift.

The expression of gratitude is an essential part of engaging your donors in the ministry you are involved in. We recognize that in the ultimate sense, the donor is not giving to hear you say "Thank you," but saying that "Thank you" is vitally immportant. It builds in the donor's heart a real sense of joy in knowing that their contribution is appreciated. After all, it was a voluntary act on their part, and being thanked reinforces in their heart and mind that they have done a good thing "as unto the Lord."

We all like to be thanked.  God likes to be thanked, and we are made like Him.  Knowing that the contribution is appreciated is important, but even more important is knowing that the intent of the partner's heart is appreciated is important.

We are saying, "I am so grateful that you have followed the leading of the Lord in this.  It expresses that what is important to the Lord is also important to you, and I'm thrilled that you have included me and the ministry I am a part of in your faith and obedience to God.

This is a great gift that we can give to our partners.

3. It is making a difference

The third thing that a donor absolutely must hear from you is that their contribution is making a difference. Not only is it appreciated, but things have changed for the better because of what they have done.

The more vividly and visually you can communicate this, the better.

I once got a thank you note from a missionary. I had sent in a modest contribution, although it was significant for me at the time. The note simply said that they had used my contribution to help with the expenses of a pastor's training conference that they had recently held. They told me about the conference, some of the things that were taught, and the comments of the pastors who had been there about how what they had learned was going to help them lead their churches to growth. The missionary essentially told me that conferences like that and the impact of people in local churches could only be possible because of gifts like mine, and they wanted me to know how the funds had been used.

Now, I know that my gift was one of many that made that conference possible. But, by linking my act of writing a check to changed lives in a church in Africa, and telling me passionatly and vividly about that connection made me feel like God had really used me to change the world.

And that is the exact thought that you want your supporting partners to have, because it is true. Their actions are genuine participation in kingdom building, and they need to be aware of this.

By helping people see the connection between the action of sending a contribution, and real things happening in real people's lives, we help strengthen their involvement in the ministry, and help people move from being a "donor" to a "friend" to a "partner" to a "co-participant" in the ministry.



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