So often, our fundraising tests look too narrowly at something we do. Here's a test that didn't fall into that habit. You can read it in a great study by the Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, Learning to Say Thank You (downloadable PDF).
Half the donors got an out-of-the-blue general thank-you letter, followed four weeks later by a renewal appeal. The other half just got the renewal appeal.
A lot of tests would have just looked at the outcome of the thank-you letter in isolation. Which would probably have been: It cost us to send it, and we got nothing in return. If that's all you looked at, you could easily conclude that the thank-you was a pointless expense, and shouldn't be done again.
But this test was looking at a bigger picture.
And here are the results: Both groups responded to the renewal appeal at the same rate. But the group that got the thank-you letter had an average gift of $112.78, while the group who didn't get it had an average gift of $67.46.
That's a 67 percent lift in average gift. We don't get differences that big very often in direct-response testing.
Your results may differ. But this supports something we know to be true: Thanking donors is good. Not just polite and nice, but good for the bottom line.
If you're looking for a game-changer in your fundraising program, look at thanking donors. Find more and better ways of thanking. That's where you'll uncover untapped potential: More response, higher gifts, more upgrading, better retention.
Thanking is the frontier for fundraisers who want to find breakthroughs!
This post is reprinted from Future Fundraising Now.
Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for nearly 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you'll join him in that opinion.