About a month ago, Hurricane Sandy ravaged the Caribbean and the East Coast of the United States. New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania were especially hard hit. Millions lost electricity and were driven from their homes. Today, thousands remain without power and without homes to return to.
Through it all, the American Red Cross has been there to help those in need.
Recognizing that others fared far worse than we did, we went online and donated to the Red Cross. At the time we made the gift, we could designate to a category or to “most needed.” We were able to print a gift receipt on the spot. As an immediate follow-up, the Red Cross emailed a thank you message with a receipt, an outline of all the services the support helps provide, and another opportunity to print out the gift receipt.
Up until that point, the Red Cross had handled the process perfectly and without any surprises.
Then, several days after our contribution, as the disaster began to subside, we received another email with another thank you with the subject line: “You are amazing.” We had to open it. When we did, we were greeted with a personalized salutation and a link to a slideshow illustrating the impact of our giving.
Here’s the text of the email we received:
Dear Lisa and Michael,
My sincere thanks for your generosity over the past ten days. The outpouring of support for the families impacted by Superstorm Sandy has been extraordinary. Whether you have given a financial gift, donated life-saving blood, or volunteered your time, I’m so grateful to so many compassionate people like you in the Red Cross community, as we provide emergency relief and help millions of families recover and get back to their lives. On behalf of the families and individuals we’ve served and will continue to serve in the days and weeks ahead, thank you.
We are making a difference together. To date, you have helped us provide more than 61,000 overnight shelter stays, serve 3.2 million meals and snacks to cold and hungry families and distribute more than 121,000 relief items such as warm blankets, cold weather gear, clean-up kits and hygiene kits. We have activated our entire fleet of 323 Emergency Response Vehicles to bring meals, water, information and emotional support to impacted communities and we have deployed nearly 5,900 trained Red Cross workers to support relief efforts.
Our work is far from over, but from the bottom of my heart, thank you. We’ll continue to post updates for those affected by the storm and for our caring Red Cross community on our website.
You are at the heart of our mission to relieve suffering, wherever and whenever we’re needed, and I am so grateful for your support.
President and CEO, American Red Cross”
The slideshow contains many moving images of the Red Cross at work. On the same page as the slideshow, there are tabs to access other useful information. For example, visitors can learn how to donate additional funds, how to give blood, how to help beyond donating money, and how to find assistance. The page also contains links to other useful, disaster-related information such as tips for returning home after a disaster and how to download an app to assist with future hurricane preparedness.
The Red Cross giving and thank-you process is effective for a number of reasons:
1. The Red Cross makes giving easy. Individuals can donate via text message, phone, mail, or online. Donors can choose the method that works best for them. All are easy.
2. The Red Cross gives donors the opportunity to designate their gifts. Giving donors this type of choice increases the chance of getting a gift and of getting a larger gift.
3. The Red Cross provides an immediate thank you. After we made our online gift, we immediately received an email thank you note and a second chance to print a gift receipt.
4. The Red Cross surprised us … in a good way. The follow-up thank-you email was unexpected and, therefore, had even greater impact.
5. The Red Cross allowed us to see our gift in action. By providing a link to a slideshow illustrating how the Red Cross was helping those in need, we could see the impact of our gift and the gifts made by thousands of other supporters.
6. The Red Cross provided additional information. The slideshow page provides much more than pictures. It provides many useful links. This makes getting additional, information easy. It’s also a no-cost way for the Red Cross to give donors something of value. In addition to simply being helpful, the Red Cross has tapped into what social scientists describe as reciprocity. By giving donors something of value, the Red Cross is building loyal relationships.
I applaud the American Red Cross for its great disaster-relief work and for demonstrating how to effectively thank donors. Unfortunately, much more remains to be done to help people recover from this disaster.
You can donate to the Red Cross by visiting the organization’s website. Or, you can call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
You can even donate $10 to Disaster Relief efforts by texting REDCROSS to 90999.
To find links of other legitimate nonprofit organizations involved in relief efforts, visit the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ webpage dedicated to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts: “AFP Disaster Relief and Fundraising Efforts Page.” You’ll also find links to several informative articles there.
Beyond it’s great disaster-relief efforts, the Red Cross serves as a fine of example of how to effectively thank donors for their support. I’m proud to support this smart organization that is there whenever, wherever it is needed.
So, does your organization have a compelling gift and thank-you process?
That’s what Michael Rosen says… What do you say?