I woke up this morning tired beyond belief. I didn't get home until after 10pm last night, which is really late for a girl that gets up at 5 every morning! Regardless of lack of rest, I cannot be mad. For the past two nights we have had our first ever thank a thon at my organization.
I have implemented this wherever I go and think its one of the best investments of time effort and money an organization can do. What's a thank a thon? Think the exact opposite of a phone a thon... Student callers make calls for hours on end, just to thank donors, nothing less than an honest and sincere expression of gratitude!! Calling donors just to say thanks is a magical thing, they're always waiting for the other show to drop, awaiting an ask... Surprise!! There isn't one! The students love it too because they get to express appreciation to those that have supported them directly.
So here are some tips and ideas for how to conduct your own thank a thon!
1. Segment wisely: we used 5 segments and ordered them in priority: scholarship donors, donors of 10 or more consecutive calendar years at any amount, mid level donors, first time givers, and those in our top giving society of $1 million plus lifetime cumulative 2. Separate thank you scripts were written for each group and placed at the top Of the color coded sheet, with spaces for whether or not they reached someone, voicemail or bad # and a comments section.
3. In addition I used this opportunity to acquire emails and so anyone with a blank email was asked to provide one so we could thank them digitally!
4. Follow up with those we couldn't reach or left a voicemail will be digitally through email thank yous with photos of the student callers 5. Although I was unable to do it this year, in years past at other organizations, I have invited staff, faculty, senior administration and trustees to join in and have done a reverse pyramid thank a thon. Students call the biggest donors with people like the president of the university or trustees calling first time donors or loyalty donors, imagine making a first time gift of $25 and getting a call from the chairman of the board!! It's magical!
6. For those consecutive givers I always put how many years they have given so try can be acknowledged properly, it is amazing how that special touch goes such a long way!!!
7. There is NEVER an ask... That doesn't mean we don't raise money, this year in two nights we pulled in an additional $25k from people who were overwhelmed by the simple act of being thanked... Who says stewardship doesn't make money???
8. The data acquired from these calls is valuable and is immediately updated in our database, from numbers that no longer work, to new spouses or unfortunately people who have passed on, it is a wonderful way to help cull information!
So what are (originally my phone autocorrected this to "ate"... comical) the downsides?? As you reinforce a culture of gratitude at your organization, there will be questions from donors and awkward pauses while they wait for you to make an ask that never happens, but in reality it is win win on all sides, student phone a thon callers see what it's like to be grateful, and donors are delighted by the simple act of thankfulness.
I would love to hear your stories, examples or questions!