Thanking your donors properly is perhaps more important than getting them to the event in the first place. Donors want to give for your mission, but they often won’t admit just how important a quick thank you is to keeping them coming back each year. Here is a sample plan for ensuring you thank ALL donors- no matter how small the gift- in a timely manner post-event (and do so without stressing yourself out).
1 Month Pre-Event
If you have a very large event, you’ll need some help writing thank you notes. If you have any other staff who work in your office, you’ll want to enlist their help as well. So a full month in advance, block off "Thank You time" on your calendar AND your co-worker’s calendar for the week after the event. Depending on the size of your event attendees, you may want to do a couple of hours each morning that week, or just one hour during lunch, whatever makes sense. But reserving that time in advance is crucial so you know you won't keep putting it off once the event is over.
1 Week Pre-Event
Write handwritten notes to all of your committee members and major donors that have already given. (Make sure you keep a list of who you’re including to avoid duplicates.) You can write in past-tense, as if the event already happened, and do not seal the envelope until after the event, just in case you need to add something personal or relevant. Go ahead and address them as well. Writing these before the event makes certain that you can get them in the mail ASAP when it’s over. These are your VIP people, so they need to be thanked immediately.
Day After Event
Personally call every event committee or board member and the top tier donors. If you’re not the Executive Director, split up the task with him or her, dividing by importance of the connection and amount raised. It’s so important for donor retention that each top donor and volunteer is immediately thanked. Also, mail the thank you letters you pre-wrote (aren’t you so glad now that you did that?!)
1 Week Post-Event
Now that you already have time blocked on your calendar, divide all of your donors by segment (starting with highest donor to lowest) and start to chip away at the list. If you have extra staff helping, divide and conquer. As you finish, go ahead and get them in the mail that day.
2 Weeks Post-Event
Finish any remaining thank-yous (maybe some that came in late) and add-in your major volunteers. They are just as important and should be thanked in a timely manner as well!