5 Tips to Improve Your Thank You Note
Tips and tricks for crafting an impactful thank you experience
March 12, 2021 · 3 min read
Recently, while checking the mail, I noticed a small, handwritten envelope that stood out against all the normal junk mail I receive. It had a beautiful hand-drawn picture on the backside that was absolutely heartwarming and touching.
The inside note was just as kind, thoughtful, and considerate. During my time doing major gifts, I handwrote hundreds if not thousands of very similar personal notes to donors. On a monthly basis, every donor in my portfolio received some type of personal communication from me either around their gift being put to use, or something that made me think about them.
There is true power and an emotion to the written word, and typing up an email is easy, but writing takes time, consideration, and thought. So, the next time you are thinking of opening an email to send a thank you to anyone, stop, and show how much you care by writing a simple handwritten note.
1. Keep it simple (if you can)
Sometimes we struggle to start because we overcomplicate things in our mind, and instead of starting, we find “better” things to do. My best notes weren’t overly complex and normally went, “Thank you first name(s) so much for your continued support and generosity of xyz. Because of you, more than (if you have quantitative info, put it in this line) 20 people/students/seniors/kids/families/whoever were served. Included is an impact story of one of those people to whom you provided a pathway to a more prosperous life. Looking forward to sharing more and connecting next week/month. Take care, Frank”
This was a super common note, and I would let whatever impact story I included do the true talking. In this thank you, I satisfied the logical brain and the emotional side, too. This brings me to my next tip!
2. Share an impact card/story
I was super lucky at my last two organizations to have fantastic writers and story gatherers. Typically everything was shared on social media or our website. Most of the time I would literally copy and paste the story in a word doc and just print them on an 8x11 piece of paper, include a short note (see above), tri-fold and then send it out USPS in a #10 envelope.
Sometimes they didn’t have exactly what I was looking for. If you do have success stories or impact stories, figure out an easy way to share them.
If you are saying, “I don’t have impact stories,” and I would sometimes say that, then I would recognize, “But I do!” I would go volunteer within my organization or go talk to program staff and ask them to share anything they recently remembered as super impactful. I then would capture that qualitative info and write it in a brief summary or share it when I followed up.
3. Make it personal
Show those that you are writing to that you know them. Share a detail that you learned from them during your last visit or a piece of information you feel they would find interesting. Always, always, always handwrite the outer envelope in blue pen, and write your name above your org name. This ensures they see the blue pop out, and that they know it is coming from you. (Tip, I used the same pen for all my external communications, which may seem overboard, but hey, the donors knew it was always from me)
4. Batch your notes
I was a huge fan of batching tasks to create efficiency. Ever get in the groove of doing something, and feel that wonderful satisfaction of finishing a project? Use your own internal chemistry on doing something that you may have a hard time starting. Once you are going, and in the groove, you will fly through it. Batching also allows you to stay on task and harness focus on a single project. As a professional, there is so much thrown at us at once, try and shut it all out and make it happen
5. Send a video thank you to seal the deal
One of my favorite things I did was send out a Thanksgiving Card with a beautiful fall scene and then took the exact same fall scene and included it as my background for a Gratavid. Repetition and subconsciously linking two things together make magic happen. I am a huge fan of sending a card, waiting for the usual time it would take to get to the person's house, and then sending out a personal thank you Gratavid with a link to my calendar to schedule time, or a link to the story I included in the envelope. I love providing different formats for people to engage, from tactile to digital.
My final thought, be intentional, and eventually, after writing 100+ cards, the cramping will go away! Remember the last time you received a personal card; what did that mean to you? Take that feeling, and imagine how the person who receives your note or card feels! Enjoy going old school and always be thanking.
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