Commentary: Make the most of your website's 'thank you' page for donors

Karen Zapp's Nonprofit Blog, 3/20/13

When a donor makes an online donation ... or when a donor or member makes a purchase ... how are you saying "thank you"? And yes, I'm assuming you do have a thank you page people automatically see after responding to your online call-to-action (CTA). It's also known as a confirmation page. Are you merely saying thanks and pointing out how their gift is tax deductible? If that's all you're doing then you are literally leaving money on the table, in my opinion. Let's snag a few ideas from the ecommerce sector, shall we? I read an article, "11 Ways to Optimize Thank You Pages" [and] I'm sharing a few ideas that I've tailored for nonprofits:

Keep shopping: If you do sell products (and some nonprofits do), then suggest a related/complimentary product for purchase. Suggest other pages of your site based on the content the web visitor just responded to. Use a testimonial from a donor as to why they named your nonprofit in their will and link to a page with more info.

Let's make a deal: How about a special deal on an upcoming event if they purchase right now?

Get 'em curious: Use creative copy and images (not merely thumbnails) to "pre-sell and generate interest." This strikes me as a good candidate for advocacy.

Survey: This is a terrific opportunity to ask a few (I advise no more than three) questions to deepen their engagement and build a touch more loyalty. Emphasize the benefit(s) to the person answering the survey.

Getting' social: Give donors a chance to share with their own social media network what they just did - made a gift to your charity; signed an electronic petition; etc.

Recruit: Encourage people to invite friends and associates to also join, vote, etc. Give people the chance to bring their network along - to do the same thing they just did.

Up-sell or cross-sell: Offer them the chance to join your monthly giving club. Show the value of this special way of giving. Or to sign up for a second year membership for X dollars less; sell a popular book or other resource.

Read the article and study the examples. Don't get hung up on the fact that it's written for ecommerce websites. You can learn a lot from other markets. And perhaps you'll even want to pay closer attention the next time you make an online consumer purchase. What is that e-tailer doing that your charity can adopt?


Jessica Kleiman,, 1/9/13

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, "The Lost Art of the Handwritten Note," Philip Hensher addresses how our increasing reliance on typing is making the handwritten note go the way of the fax machine: "The ready communication through electronic means that has replaced the handwritten letter is wonderful. But we have definitely lost something here, and those Skype, email and text exchanges won't be treasured in the way that my teenage letters, scribbled journals and postcards have been for years." I couldn't agree more. Often people ask -- particularly Generation Y -- if, after an interview or meeting, they should send a thank you via email or snail mail. I always suggest doing both. The speed of an email follow-up is great but it can often get buried in a busy person's in-box (or even get lost in the "junk mail" folder if you're sending it from an unfamiliar email address). In this day and age, when we're getting fewer and fewer [personal] letters in the mail, a handwritten thank you note, well-crafted on good stationery, will make a candidate stand out from others who chose not to take that extra, personal step. The generation graduating from college now has grown up in a digital world. But there's still something to be said for taking the time to hand-write your thoughts -- and send that real letter or card through the good old US Postal Service (they could certainly use the business). Let's not lose the art completely or our memories and sentiments will disappear into Internet purgatory when our in-boxes automatically delete old files.


Commentary: Is an artist's life thankless?

Amina Harper, Twin Cities [Minn/St. Paul] Daily Planet column "The Art House," 3/15/13

I once heard another artist say that "being in the arts is consistently thankless," and while I understand that this is mostly in regards to money, I still have to respectfully disagree. I can't tell you how many times I've posted an image to Facebook or hung a show and been completely taken aback by the positive reception I get from people. It's a whirlwind of appreciation that feels like a big warm hug made out of cotton candy and kind words. It's true that working in the arts is difficult and there are plenty of pitfalls that can hinder career development (just like in any profession), but regardless we artists are incredibly fortunate to be able to do what we do. While we should be paid for the work we make, we should also acknowledge the other forms of appreciation we receive because no one is obligated to care about the projects we take part in. There is a natural desire to gauge our work's importance to others solely by how much money we are able to rake in, but financial compensation in any creative endeavor can be rare, so it is imperative to seek value in other forms of gratitude so as to not become bitter. We are consistently surrounded by support, but it's much easier to be thankful for the value others impart onto you if you first impart value onto yourself. So be extremely thankful for every compliment you receive...every friend, fan and follower and every human being on this planet who gives you encouragement, wisdom, critique, support, advocacy and shows a positive interest in what you're doing because they don't have to, they chose to. They chose you.


Commentary: Book authors discuss how to say thank you

The National Post [Canada] 3/18/13

  • Iain Reid, author of The Truth About Luck: Wanting to recognize those who've helped, encouraged and supported is instinctual. It feels good to pass along gratitude. How and when to deliver this message of "thanks" is less clear. There are effusively dense acknowledgments that drift along, page after page. Unlike the Oscars, there's no ominous orchestral shark-themed music to remind authors to wrap it up. There's also plenty examples of the tip-of-the-cap routine; a pruned sentence or two. Brevity is not a bad thing. There are many books without any acknowledgments. There are very few rules to follow. While I was deciding whether or not to include acknowledgments in my book, I developed the odd habit of watching the entire end credits at movies. I realized most people in theaters don't even read them. And what about the universal fear of forgetting someone? Omitting a name in an off-the-cuff thank-you speech is excusable. A written page is considered, worked on and controllable.
  • Zoe Whittall, author of Bottle Rocket Hearts and Holding Still for as Long as Possible: With my second book the hardback went to press with an old version of my acknowledgements, and someone who I thanked got offended that they weren't thanked enough, that they were thanked in the same line as other people and not singled out as special. I think acknowledgments are for the people who are thanked, and for the author, as a sort of archive of the time spent working hard on that particular project. I think that most of the time both your bio and acknowledgements sections get shorter the more you publish, oddly.
  • Mike Christie, author of The Beggar's Garden: Like exclamation marks, acknowledgments are important and necessary, but should be employed with extreme caution. An excessively overwrought acknowledgments section can seem more like a festival of self-aggrandizement than anything to do with actual gratitude. Really good writing speaks for itself. Just thank the people who actually helped out and get the hell out of there.
Please consider the environment before printing out this email.  Thanks.
YOU'VE COTT MAIL is a free service for professionals in the arts.  Emails are sent most weekdays. 
If you are not already on the distribution list and would like to sign up, please click here:

Join Our Mailing List      Follow me on Twitter     
Click here to view an archive of recent past editions of "You've Cott Mail."