Inspiring Generosity


Case Study: Even Online, Thanking is Essential

            If meerkats can say "thanks," so can you. Pixabay

First of all, congrats to all of you who have figured out how to get a “Donate” or “Give” button on your website. And, more importantly, how to get it to work. I have no idea how computers make the connection between a website and a bank account (securely, of course), do you? But I’m sure glad that they’ve figured it out and left me out of the discussion.

I mean how does email work? And how does a GIF get on my little phone? It’s best that I don’t think about it or my head will explode.

So, you have a button on your website where people can give. Once again – hooray! As you will remember in last week’s post, Millennials love giving electronically (they have little trust in the US mail). And frankly, I (despite being a Boomer, OK?) also prefer giving online, primarily for its convenience.

On December 31, I made all my year-end donations…online. Even though the tax incentives are no longer there, there’s something about that year-end deadline. It’s psychological. Can I get my donation in under the wire? Can I make an organization happy on the last day of the year? And, I’m not special: most giving is done during the last three days of the year.

I made donations to four organizations and one church. When I hit “send,” I wasn’t expecting fireworks (though if you could work on that, please do) but I was expecting some sort of thank you. And, indeed, I did get five very different thank yous.

Let’s review:

Organization #1: The “from” line in the email? It was a "no reply" from "ministry forms" address. Yeah, it didn’t give me confidence. And there was nothing on the receipt that indicated who I had actually given to. I’ve talked to the Executive Director about my experience and apparently, they switched providers and no one did a dry run to see if it was working. They’re fixing it now but still…

Organization #2 (the church): The “from” line in the email? Someone whose name I did not recognize. There was a “thank you” but it didn't mention why my gift was important. It was a total of two short sentences without the full name of the church listed.

Organization #3: The “from” line? "Service" at paypal. Ummmm…not very inspiring. The generic email let me know how much I donated. Definitely, this was a receipt. But they redeemed themselves a few days later with a heart-felt and fun thank you letter.

Organization #4: Once again, the “from” line was a name I did not recognize. However, the email was “branded” with the organization’s name and website address. A much longer message was attached with an explanation of the work the organization is doing. Bonus: About a week later, I received a lovely, hand-written thank you on stationary that was representative of the organization. Check out the email here.

Organization #5: I received not one, but two emails. The first one was a receipt, clearly meant for my tax purposes. It’s too bad this was the first one, because the second made my heart sing. The “from” line was the name of the Executive Director – someone who is known by just about everyone. There was a fun photo and lots of thanks. A few days later, I received a terrific thank you letter as well. Check out their email here.

Your takeaway?

Do a test on your own website. Pretend you’re a first-time donor.
See if you are:

  • Inspired.
  • Confident about where your donation is going.
  • Feel like your donation is important.
  • Thanked both on-line and through the US postal service.
  • Inclined to make another donation.

Yes, computers are magic machines. Yes, it’s a hassle to get things right. But once that system is in place, you’re good to go for quite a while. It’s the start of a new year. Let’s be sure that your computer is working for you – and not the other way around.

P.S. Exciting news! I will be doing a one-hour webinar, Increasing Joy, Increasing Generosity in Your Congregation next Thursday at 4pm (PST) for Practical Resources for Churches. Find out more and register here. I’d love to see you there.

Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past fifteen years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She’s hoping to receive that meerkat bouquet sometime soon. In the meantime, she’s humoring herself with “Meerkat Moments.” Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. She is available to consult with churches. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity or at CesieScheuermann.com.

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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.