Are you ready for #GivingTuesday?

Is your acknowledgement and stewardship program ready for #GivingTuesday?

Just a week away, #GivingTuesday marks the official beginning of the “most wonderful time of the year” for we nonprofit professionals. While it’s our favorite time of the year, it is also one of the hardest, as we account for all of the end-of-year donations that fill the mailboxes.

But with that hard work also comes the need to have our acknowledgement and stewardship procedures in perfect step to ensure our donors receive tax letters, thank yous and other stewardship materials in a timely fashion. Here are a few tips to treat our beloved donors with respect and adulation this year.

48-72 Hour Turnaround
Don’t sit on tax-receipt letters. Aim to have them in the mail within 48-72 hours after you receive the gift. Anything longer is unforgivable. And if the guy down the street is doing it and you’re not, next year your donor might just find a new place for her giving.

Pick up a Phone!
Call your donors whenever you can. We try to do it the same day as the gift comes in. If you receive lots of gifts, find some volunteers to help. Even if you leave a message, it’s an extra touch point that donors appreciate. I also am known to send exuberant emails and even text messages to some of my closest donors. While some might think a thumbs-up emoji is inappropriate, some of your contributors might love it.

Board Members Should Help with Thank You Notes
Get your board members lined up to write and sign thank you notes. Keep a stack on your desk along with sticky notes to let your board members know who gave, when and how much. Thank you notes are a lost art form, so receiving something hand-written in the mail is a nice touch.

Follow up with Donors you Miss in December
The biggest mistake nonprofits make in their annual solicitations at the end of year is to forget to re-solicit donors that “forgot” to donate in December. For anyone you missed, be sure to send another letter in early February. While getting a donation in at the end of the year is important to many donors, others just want to support you. It’s up to you to ask, and ask again if you have to!

Let Donors Know How Their Gift MADE A DIFFERENCE
Don’t just stop with how you used the gift – show its impact. How did a gift make a difference in another person’s life. Follow up with donors to let them know. And it never hurts to have consumers and clients – when appropriate – send a thank you note to a donor. And don’t forget the feel-good pictures. They’re worth a thousand words.

Remember – stewardship is EVERYTHING. So have fun on #GivingTuesday and with your end-of-year campaigns. And thank your donors. They’re the fuel that allows us to take flight.

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