Thankyou & Goodbye

My personal favourite has been the body wash.

Sure, it’s a little pricier than the others fighting for space on the shelves, but it feels like an investment – a better smelling me and a chance to show I care. For many consumers, Thankyou is a brand held in high esteem, providing a chance to express our desire for quality, matched with our inherit desire to be generous. Whether it was nappies, cereal, snack bars, or my favourite (the body wash), their products meet us where we are at.

But that’s the kicker… the brand met us (the consumer) where we were at. But what about those in which the products are truly designed to help?

Thankyou recently published their annual letter spanning over 6000 words, all driving to a single point – how do we, the donor, change so life for the global poor can change also?

Many of us may not have the time to read this thesis, nor the inside knowledge of how the donor/NFP relationship works to fully appreciate the significance of this letter. I do encourage you to read the letter in its entirety, but for sake of brevity here is a brief snapshot to get the conversation started…

“We had become part of the problem”.

Thankyou’s annual letter is a ‘bearing of souls’ and humble insight into a taboo ‘problem’ they have seen develop over the past 12 years. Interestingly, it’s not the lack of unsustainable global aid development practice. They are aware you’ll be the black sheep of the ‘Global Aid NFP’ family if your development strategies are not sustainable [take heed black sheep]. So what is the problem they address? The answer?

Us, the donor.

Far from being a pot-shot on their loyal customers, they gently seek to uncover some things many have not wanted to. To support their claim, they observe seven 7 traits/loves they had and we share in which turns the donor into an obstacle. We love…


  1. Calling the shots. It’s our money, right?
  2. Claiming big numbers
  3. Solutions that we can touch and feel (and marketing that goes with that)
  4. Determining what’s ‘value for money’
  5. Activity over impact
  6. Conscious/Unconscious personal bias’, and
  7. Making timeframes the ‘short-leash’ attached to our giving.


Simply put:

 “Donors can create obstacles for partners which equate to poor development practices, wasted time, energy and resources which results in replicating conventional, one-size-fits-all approaches, a lack of focus on learning and long-term impact collection, and poor-quality solutions to tackle systemic and complex change.”

We are the ones who need to change


Their solution? Fall in love with something grander – investing in smart, innovative, messy, transparent, and impact-driven NFP’s and foundations with a long-term mindset.

This doesn’t mean a blind trust and handing over money, but a change in mindset that enables each parties true value to come to the forefront. For me, it’s the Wizard of Oz moment – allowing everyone to come out from behind the marketing ‘curtain’ so both sides can meet one another genuinely.

Big call, right?

To back this up, Thankyou has said goodbye to their old mindset hoping we the consumer will follow them. No more ‘track my impact’. No more ‘water is for water projects’ and ‘nappies are for maternal projects’. Now that is brave. But it’s also thrilling as we look to what’s to come!


What can we all learn from Thankyou?

In digesting all of this, here are some quick reflections on what we can take away and apply to our own brand and marketing…


Reflection #1 – There is always time to listen

Brands that have a true ability to stop and listen amidst the chaos will stand the test of time. To truly listen means to be vulnerable, and to be vulnerable means to be brave. Without bravery, change can never happen.

Reflection #2 – Marketing hinges on your assumptions

There is an assumption that has been reinforced that says “simplicity is greater than transparency”. This has led many to change the nature of ‘complex’ products/experiences to simple things, in favour of displaying the mess. The irony is we can attest that behind all great relationships/friendships lies the exact opposite assumption – transparency is what builds trust and love. That is the great ‘denouement’ moment in the Wizard of Oz which made it an ageless story.

Reflection #3 – Creative and successful marketing hinges on conscious/purposeful brands

Thankyou now has to discover a new creative way to market products that no longer come with a neat and simple ‘impact package’ we all have loved and adored. That’s a challenge in creativity and we will see some of the best creative breakthroughs from them only because they are conscious of what their brand stands for. If you want to truly succeed in today’s crowded market, get conscious of your brand.


Read Part 2, where we have a look at the huge implications the Thankyou letter has for Non-for-Profits and their marketing. And head over to LinkedIn or Instagram to join the conversation.



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