George H.W. Bush made his political career using them. The great Winston Churchill is said to have written more than 100 of them on a typical a day. You know the power of using handwritten notes, but why do they work and what distinguishes a good note from a bad one?
Why Notes Work
Although we live in the age of artificial intelligence and can communicate instantly with almost anyone across the globe, a handwritten note still wields amazing power. They are far more than just a charming relic from the past. Notes actually make a powerful impression on donors and further the relationship, when properly written.
Notes cut through the clutter. Emails and texts are quickly deleted. Impersonal newsletters, magazines and other colorful clutter are instantly trashed or banished to a stack on some side table. Then they’re thrown out because they were never read. Even a phenomenal mail merge letter will still end up in “file 13” about 90% of the time.
But many handwritten notes are kept for weeks, even months or years. They are often pinned to bulletin boards, cubical walls or kept in place with magnets on break room refrigerators. Notes are handcrafted, something highly sought after even in a world governed by Twitter and Instagram.
Making Notes Work For You
Don’t have fancy note cards all printed up with your organization’s logo on the front and plenty of room to write on the inside? Do not let that stop you from starting right now to write notes to your donors.
A colorful, engaging design (from a museum gift shop, for instance) will make the note feel all the more personal. Ultimately, though, you should make the investment in branded note cards to help cement your identity in the donors’ mind.
Writing a note is all about brevity and charm. Keep your sentences short almost to the point of having a staccato tone. Since most of us are no longer skilled at expressing ourselves with pen in hand, write out your message in Word using your computer first. This is really helpful when writing several people about the same thing, like thanking donors after an event or who all gave at the same time.
Be specific. Yes, you do want to mention the dollar amount of a gift, but you always want to associate the donor’s generosity with impact on the cause. “Your generous gift of $1,200 will help 3 of our children benefit from our program.” The cardinal rule is never play “middle man.” Do not put yourself between the donor and the impact.
If you can, talk about the next possible interaction with the donor. “I look forward to seeing you again” or “I hope you will be able to make it to the spring gala.” This moves the relationship forward and makes your note powerful, personal engagement tool.
Notes Are An Art Form
There are guidelines, but in the end donors are impressed when you express your heartfelt gratitude or engage them with your warmth and genuine concern for them. Read How to Impact Donors with Your Gratitude>>
We can’t teach you that, but if you are struggling with making your handwritten notes more effective, I’d be glad to help. Just click here to request a free consultation to talk about your major gifts program and where notes fit in with your donor communication.