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Gratitude is best expressed

Written by on Sep 21, 2009

The MS Challenge Walk is a week behind us, and the donations continue to trickle in. At some point, you'll have received your last donation — but even after it's submitted, your work isn't done! You may've earned the accolades by walking 50 miles to cross that finish line, but what about all your friends and family who supported you with their donations? Don't they deserve some thanks, too?

Sending your supporters a thank-you email or letter is a great way to end the fundraising year. They'll appreciate hearing a post-event summary of your experiences and also knowing how much you appreciated their help. Best of all, you'll be maintaining communication with future potential donors, keeping the MS Challenge Walk in their minds more than once a year. Should you need their support again in the future, they'll remember that their check is going to someone who appreciates it.

To make this process easier, your Participant Center has a button for "Follow-Ups". From here, you can choose all those who "have donated on your behalf for this event" then "Send Email to Selected". If you're not feeling particularly eloquent, there is a "Thank You for Sponsoring Me" template you can use to thank your donors — or you can choose to "Create Your Own Message". If you need ideas of what to write, you might want to mention some of the ways the National MS Society is using their funds, or relate stories of the people you met along the walk. Including a list of all the supporters is nice, too, as it gives them street cred among their fellow philanthropists. (I do this but do not segregate donors by donation sizes; everyone is equal in my eyes, whether they donated $5 or $500.)

I sent postal thank-you letters to my 78 donors last Friday. Already I received an email confirmation: "Thanks for the nice thank you letter. Anyone who reads it will know how impassioned you are." Let your supporters see your passion, too, and send them a thank-you note. You'd appreciate receiving one, and so will they.

Ken joined the MS Challenge Walk in 2005, more than a decade after his mother was diagnosed. After walking for three years and 150 miles, he switched to the support crew and now rides his bicycle along the trail, providing whatever encouragement (and snacks!) he can to the 600 walkers. He is also an alumnus of the event's steering committee and is this site's webmaster.