Do donors come back if you thank them? Following up with donors can be time consuming. Does it pay off? Donations are valuable – and repeat donations mean that your donors are happy. Not only do you get multiple donations from that donor, but if they came back, that means they are more likely to tell their friends. So, can you get donors to come back by sending them Thank You letters? I analyzed some data from some ThriftCart users who had good follow-up letters around half their donors, but didn’t for the other half. The percent of donors who came back again after getting a thank-you within a year was about 15.5%. Those who didn’t get a thank-you e-mail only came back 12% of the time. The 3.5 percentage point spread may not seem huge, but it’s cheap and easy to send to send thank-you e-mails. This data is based on e-mail follow-ups. I imagine that postal follow-ups would get better results.
Want to run some numbers? Every 100 thank-you’s will generate 3.5 repeat donors. Even if they come back only once more, that means you’ll get 3.5 extra donations. If you run a high-value pickup service, each pickup can average $250 in retail value. So, 3.5 extra donations means $875.00 in extra sales. Dividing that by the 100 letters you sent out, that’s an average of $8.75 extra for each letter sent. And that’s not counting the good will you generate and all the word-of-mouth to friends and neighbors.
Want an idea of the boost that thank-you letters might generate for referrals? I compared some data from stores that track how their donors heard about them. In the store that did no thank you letters, 9% of donors reported hearing about the pickup service from a friend. In the store that did thank you letters, the rate went up to 19%. That’s an even bigger boost than repeat donors. Furthermore, this effect will compound on itself, with the new referrals coming back again and telling their friends.
So, thank your donors – not just because it’s nice, but because they’ll appreciate your appreciation so much that they’ll come back and tell their friends.