The power of a personal thank-you note.
Personal thanks still mean something
Earlier this year, a 5th Grade student in Ontario became a life-long supporter.
10-year-old Gavriel made a presentation for his school’s “Project Give Back” program. He chose a local hospital – North York General – and showed his class what NYGH had done for his family and the local community.
The teachers who started the program helped Gavriel mail his presentation to the hospital; the package found its way to the desk of the President & CEO, Dr. Tim Rutledge.
Dr. Rutledge then did something amazing: he wrote Gavriel a personal thank-you letter.
Gavriel didn’t give any money or pledge any future donations. He’s only 10, after all. But he’s going to be a friend and supporter of the hospital for life.
The letter is quite perfect – handwritten, geared to a fifth grader’s level, refers to the specific instances that Gavriel included in his presentation, spells his name right, and even includes an “official” stamp from the CEO’s office.
The stamp is a particularly nice touch because it is official without being pre-printed. It legitimizes the original gift – in this case, the mailed presentation – and acknowledges the receipt all at once, with an authentic feel.
The card is “official” – Pip the Penguin is the NYGH mascot – and counts as stationery, but still has a joyful feeling to it. You needn’t work so hard to write the words if you put your reader in a good mood first. Hand-writing the letters is time-consuming and hard for those of us with terrible penmanship, so if handwritten letters aren’t a manageable possibility, use stationery to add some personality.
“Receiving Gavriel’s letter about his project on our hospital made my day. I believe that anyone who takes the time to thank our hospital should be thanked in return,” said Dr. Rutledge when we asked him why he wrote the letter. “At North York General we put our patients first in everything we do and it’s wonderful when a member of our community, no matter their age, acknowledges the care we provide to our patients and their families.”
Gavriel will never forget this letter, and his family will continue to go to NYGH for their illnesses and births. When Gavriel grows up, you can bet he’ll have strong positive feelings about the hospital and want to give back.
So many of us have forgotten the art – and power – of a well-crafted, personal letter of thanks.
Why does it make such a difference? How can we use that meaningful act to give our donors the thanks they really deserve?
You don’t have to hand-write the whole letter, but you should personalize the content. Especially when you’re thanking someone for a personal gesture. Refer to any letter or message they sent with a donation, or to the person they gave in honor of. Have they given before? Make sure you’re thanking them again for their last gift and this one.
Receiving a gift from a new donor is exciting, and of course, you send them a letter of thanks. If new donors contribute because you were recommended by a previous donor, why not send the referring donor a letter, too?
It doesn’t take much to personalize the envelope for a personal letter, either. A simple hand-written “Thank You!” on the back, a real stamp, or even hand-writing the address, is humanizing. Printing thank-yous onto stationery that reflects how glad you are to receive a gift, and how thankful you are, adds to the effect of the words you write.
When writing a thank-you letter you’re not just acknowledging the receipt of funds: let donors know that the money is meaningful, not just valuable. Stamps like the NYGH President’s are easy to have made and can sit on any CEO or executive administrator’s desk for a quick and approachable way to make letters more personal and personalized.