As a board member and fundraising committee representative, I was recently asked to explain a nonprofit thank-a-thon at a board meeting. To me, it seems kind of obvious. But I live in the development world.
What it is
Put simply, a nonprofit thank-a-thon offers board members a way to thank donors WITHOUT an additional ask. In an age where it is standard to attach a donation reply slip to thank you letters as well as to ask for money at events that donors have paid to attend, it is nice to have a few outlets that remain modest yet gracious methods for nonprofits to thank their donors without asking for anything in return.
Historically, a phone bank was required so that everyone could sit in a room and make the calls. An office was usually donated so that the outgoing calls would have a legitimate caller ID. That still happens from time to time (Condon Realty in Needham, MA has donated their space to my organization in the past and deserves a shout out) but it is often more feasible to have board members bring their cell phones and chargers (just in case) to a house where they can sit around and make the calls.
Armed with a list of donors – big and small alike – and a script, each board member makes calls to thank donors for their support over the past year. Keep the script very simple. Something like, “Thank you so much for your support of X organization this year. You have helped us _________ (insert one data-driven fact here)___ and we just wanted to let you know that we really appreciate your support. I hope you have a nice evening.“
Why Do This?
- Donors will be surprised when they receive the call or hear the voice message; and they will hang up with a smile on their face and your nonprofit on their mind.
- Board members can do something that is helpful to fundraising but does not require them to ask people for money.
- And, as a bonus gift to board members, it feels really good. Good as in the reason they first joined the board and wanted to help make it a better place and now they have made others feel that same way about the organization.
The thank-a-thon is a win-win-win-win for donors, board members, stewardship plans and, above all, donor retention strategies. Not bad for a couple hours of easy calls.