Thanking Donors: It’s Not Manners, It’s Science

Thanking Donors: It’s Not Manners, It’s Science

January 14, 2016 Lynette Garet Fundraising 0 Comment

A study by Dr. Monica Bartlett of Gonzaga University and Dr. Lisa Williams of the University of South Wales suggests that simply thanking someone may make them perceive you as more “warm” and feel more willing to continue interacting with you. The findings will be published in Emotion, a psychology journal that features original research, case studies, and theoretical discussion. The study supports what many development professionals already know: saying “thank you” is a simple but vital step in fundraising.

The researchers performed an experiment with 70 Gonzaga students. After mentoring high school students, all 70 participants received a handwritten note from their mentee, but only 30 of the notes included the phrase “Thank you SO much.” Afterwards, the participants were asked about a series of questions about the experience. The Gonzaga Bulletin reported, “Participants who received the thank you notes not only viewed their mentees as warmer people; they were also more willing to continue their relationship with their mentee.”

Dr. Bartlett has been researching the impact of emotion and gratitude in behavior for years. Her past research has shown that feelings of gratitude can influence to make more prosocial decisions. In other words, when people are feeling grateful, they share more resources with others. This kind of behavioral research suggests that people may be more willing to donate to a prosocial cause if they are primed to feel gratitude.


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