We hear that expression in many areas of our lives. From a “chance” meeting in a coffee shop of someone valuable to our career . . . to hitting one green traffic light after another when running late to an appointment.

Today my focus is on the timing of when you send out your thank you acknowledgment letters.

This post was prompted by a first-hand experience. Here’s the story:

I thoroughly enjoy mysteries – novels as well as movies and TV shows. Problem with most TV shows is that they withhold clues from the viewer so you haven’t a chance of solving it (I view this as weak writing – smile). My suggestion is for these writers and producers to watch more Hitchcock as a starter; but I digress.

In contrast the British aren’t as stingy with clues in their shows. Many give viewers a valid chance to play detective and solve the mystery. For a true mystery buff that’s nirvana. You can find these great shows on Public Television.

So back on June 1st (yes; three months ago) I made a donation to my regional Public Television to help fund “Masterpiece Mystery.” I felt good about my contribution.

And I didn’t think too much about not receiving a thank you note because I sadly realize that many organizations don’t send them.

However, imagine my surprise when at the end of September – essentially three months later – I received a thank you letter!

Annoyance replaced the warm glow I had felt back on June 1st. Why?

1 – Three (3) months to say thank you?!

2 – Zero personalization in the letter (okay; they stated the amount of my gift and the date received). It was a form letter with NO mention of how I helped keep “Masterpiece Mystery” on the air. Salutation was “Hello” without my name. No one signed it. Etc.

In a word: COLD

First off, I firmly believe you ought to send thank you letters. I know some nonprofits don’t, but hopefully they continue to test the impact of this practice.

What’s more an organization of ANY SIZE can develop a system to get warm personalized thank you letters in the mail within a week of receiving the donation (or joining an association). I can’t tell you how many nonprofits of all sizes and missions have reassured me this is doable – and they do it!

Timing is everything. A prompt thank you reinforces the warm glow of giving and builds loyalty. A dreadfully late thank you – such as three months late – weakens loyalty through disappointment and annoyance. Your choice. Build loyalty or destroy it. Which route helps you raise more funds?


Do strangers receive more courtesy than your donors?

Go here  – how to write a compassionate and effective thank you letter or card

Why charities must say “thank you”

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Thank you pages ought to do more than say — Karen Zapp - Nonprofit Copywriter
March 20, 2013 at 7:48 am

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