The Power of a Handwritten Note

Photo by sure2talk

Not too long ago, I had the great privilege of doing a live chat on Gini Dietrich’s blog using the LiveFyre commenting system. We had a great time (well I did, speaking for myself) and LiveFyre had a couple of people check in to make sure that everything was running smoothly and that we didn’t have any questions or problems. That was great!

About a week or two later, I saw a little envelope resting on my desk. Inside was a handwritten postcard from the folks at LiveFyre saying that they were really happy Gini and I had used their system for our chat. I was blown away. What was interesting is that when I posted a picture of this handwritten note to share with my Facebook friends, a lot of them were blown away too. A handwritten card? In this day and age? You might as well say you saw a zebra crossing Main Street!

This whole reaction, mine and that of my friends, to a handwritten note really had me thinking. Why was it so extraordinary to all of us? What made it seem so over the top awesome? And how can you harness that kind of power to let your donors know that you appreciate them?

Don’t Say You Care, Show You Care

You have probably heard that old saying, “Actions speak louder than words.” People who contribute to a good cause get a lot of good words thrown at them.

When you make a donation online you get an automated email back almost immediately that says something like, “Thank you so much for sharing! We really appreciate it!” Do you ever pay attention to those emails when you get them? I view them more as a receipt and proof that my credit card went through (thank goodness). You know that anyone and everyone who makes a donation gets the exact same message. It doesn’t matter how much a person gives or how often, that same automated email message is thrown out. Even if that automated message says you care, people won’t really feel that’s a genuine sentiment. Do you really care about everyone?

A handwritten note, on the other hand, is by its very nature customized. Time had to be taken to write neatly, to write out the person’s name and make sure you spelled it right. There’s no spell-check when you handwrite a note, so care needs to be taken to make sure everything is perfect before you send. A handwritten note tells a person that you are putting some thought into what you are saying, and they probably guess that each note you write to people is a little bit different. Your handwritten note shows you care.

A Handwritten Note Plus a Little Something Extra

As a social cause, you can make your handwritten note even more customized and more meaningful.

A few years ago, I made an afghan for an organization that helps out chronically ill children. I’ve made a lot of hand-crafted items for good causes over the years, and often times you just never hear anything. You hope and assume that your blanket or hat is keeping someone warm and a bit happier. Well, this particular organization not only sent me a handwritten note, but they sent me a postcard with handwriting on one side and a picture of a kid wrapped up in the afghan I’d made on the other side!

This clearly took some thought and effort. Matching my donation up with a kid who needed it, remembering who had made that afghan, keeping track of my address–someone put a fair amount of thought into that little postcard. I knew that my donation had not just been received, it had been appreciated.

Even if your organization doesn’t accept in-kind gifts, you could still create a card for a donor showing them the types of things their money helped purchase. Perhaps a thank you card indicating that their $5 donation will be used to provide meals for X amount of people would work. Maybe letting someone know that their money came in just in the nick of time because your organization experienced cuts. People who make contributions are, sadly, not used to REALLY feeling like they are making a difference. You can tell them exactly how they helped, and you can do it all in a personalized, handwritten note.

Have you tried the handwritten approach?

Has your organization ever tried to send out personalized, handwritten notes to your donors? What did you try and what kinds of reactions did the effort receive?

We’d love to hear your thoughts! No, you don’t have to handwrite them.