Electronic Gift Acknowledgements Shouldn't Be Cold And Unfeeling

Updated: May 26

What happens when someone gives to you electronically? Perhaps they read an email where you told a story about a life changed because of what you do. Maybe they gave after discovering your webpage. It could be that a social media post grabbed their attention, and they were moved to give. What happens immediately after they give their gift?

This week, I gave a gift, and the gift acknowledgment email I received made me feel awesome and great. It made me glad I gave, and it made me want to give again. AND, it made me want to give a more significant gift next time!

What happens immediately after someone gives online is often an automated acknowledgment sent by email.

They don't have to be, but these acknowledgement emails are often cold, lifeless, and even harmful.

Most acknowledgment emails merely recognize that an electronic transaction has been made. This recognition is needful. But this opportunity to make the donor feel excellent about their giving is often wasted.

Poorly crafted acknowledgment emails can even cause harm. Consider with me how this happens.

When a donor gives, they give to their values through your organization.

They are not giving to you; they are giving through you.

When they give to their values and receive an automated electronic email that doesn't affirm those values, it can hurt their enthusiasm.

To a donor, it can feel like bait-and-switch. Bait-and-switch is a form of fraud where merchants bait consumers at a low price, but when they go to the store, they discover the advertised goods are not available.

When donors believe they are giving to their values but receive a cold electronic email that merely acknowledges that they gave money, they feel cheated.

Some tips for creating great acknowledgment emails:

1. Say thank you!

2. Acknowledge that the donor's gift will promote their values. Acknowledging these values requires you to be clear about the values you represent that the donor is supporting.

3. Show the impact the donor's gift is making happen.

4. Be personal. As much as possible, make this automatic electronic email personal. Use the automation to insert their name in the greeting.

5. Acknowledge the "pain" that they are relieving with their gift in the lives of your constituents.

Trust me when I tell you that the hard work you put into crafting great gift acknowledgment emails is not frivolous. Great giving acknowledgment emails play a significant role in keeping your donors for the long haul and getting larger and larger gifts from them.

As usual, I have collected some great examples! These are anything but boring and lifeless!

An all-time favorite is from Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia. He makes me feel like I am affecting generations to come with my gift! He makes me feel significant and powerful. It makes me want to give again. This automated electronic acknowledgement makes me want to give more!

Subject: Your donation ensures the future of Wikipedia. Thank you.

Dear David,

I spent a lot of time thinking about how to express my gratitude for your $XXX gift to the Wikimedia Endowment. You did something that so few people do – made a gift – and it's important I tell you how special that is to us.

But in the end, I realized the best thing I could do is just say it: thanks, David, from all of us at Wikipedia. Thank you for ensuring the future of free knowledge.

Today, thanks to the support of millions of volunteer editors and donors, you can wander Wikipedia for hours. With more than 50 million articles, Wikipedia can answer almost any question, and take you places you've never been. We started the Wikimedia Endowment to make sure future generations have access to Wikipedia like we do today, for years to come.

Your donation ensures that new generations will have this free gift of knowledge available at the touch of a button. There is no greater legacy you can leave to the future than knowledge of the present and the past.

The essential story of Wikipedia is the story of an individual, like you, giving a little bit of themselves to keep the doors of discovery open.

Wikipedia will continue to evolve, grow, and meet new challenges because of generosity just like yours.

You helped us build this. And I'm committed to making sure Wikipedia is here for the long-term, for you.

David, thank you for making sure Wikipedia has a bright future.

With gratitude,

Jimmy Wales

Wikipedia Founder

Another great example:

And I will share with you the current acknowledgement for my organization:

Great electronic gift acknowledgement emails can be a minor touch that brings major impact.

I am in your corner!


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