So, your dinner or other event has just ended - it's finally over! You're probably excited to purge the event from your mind for awhile and take a day or two off. You absolutely can and should do that! Just not yet. You need to make sending a thank you note to everyone involved a priority in the days following your event.
Past experience and giving data has shown how crucial it is to get those thank-you letters out right away. One basic goal for you is that you're trying to get 60% of your dinner income in the first 90 days (think of this as ROI). That goal is greatly helped by a prompt thank you note because it reminds those who weren't prepared to give on the night of the event. The longer you wait, the more people forget about their commitment (even as little as a week after).
A prompt thank you note serves as a reminder for those who weren't prepared to give on the night of the event
As a parallel, a number of years ago Cru cut the time it takes them to send a receipt after a gift in half, and they saw a full month's worth of donations added to what came in (i.e., what would normally come in over 13 months came in over 12 months).
Another helpful factor is in how we see Vision Dinners. The event itself, while near the end of a long time of good, hard work, isn't the final stage itself. In other words, it's helpful to see the thank you notes as part of the bigger whole - an integral part of the entire event. It has even been done before where the letter party happened immediately after the dinner; that may sound really appealing to some, because then it's done and over with (except for Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon phone calls). The latest end time that's best to aim for with everything is the Monday after the dinner by 5pm.
Thank you notes should be seen as part of the bigger whole - an integral part of the entire event
Methods are also important. It's possible it wouldn't take a very long to do the letters, for several reasons. Not all of them need to be sent out immediately (the no-gift and did-not-attend letters); everything except the amount, giving method, etc. could be prepared ahead of time; you would have all hands on-deck; and mail merge and Ministry Sync could make the process go fairly quickly.
All these things lead to very positive results and responses from partners from what experience has demonstrated. Phone-call wise, it's simply about calling to thank them; even if you leave a voicemail (where you by the way don't need to mention the amount given, if it's a voicemail), you can do that and then not have to call again---it's just a sweep through all those partners who are due a call.
If you’ve ever watched a horse race (to keep with our racing metaphor), you know there are four turns on the track. After the last turn, the P.A. announcer says, “And down the stretch they come!” Think of the actual dinner as the fourth turn, then there’s the final stretch of letters and phone calls, and Monday at 5pm (at the latest) as the finish line.
Then kick back and enjoy some much-deserved time off.