Donors receive many thank you letters and emails during the holiday season. Your donors may receive several during that time, yours being included with the other nonprofits they support. Thanking donors at times least expected is not only a pleasant surprise, but expresses how grateful your organization is throughout the year.
A little guidance in helping you continually and artfully thank donors is provided in our 6 ways to thank donors below. Consider that thanking donors is the most important aspect of your nonprofit fundraising strategy.
6 Keys to Thanking Donors Artfully
1) Thanking Donors by Phone
Donors may have a connection with a certain philanthropy staff member, program director or board member. Placing calls when donors give is and an effective way of staying in touch. It is personalized and allows for a relaxed conversation. Donors may express concerns or ask questions – it is a two way communication.
Creating a stewardship list within your nonprofit CRM is a good way to track calls. Lists are connected to individual donor records. Each call thanking donors should have a notation placed on their record.
Create a stewardship list for each key player – board members, philanthropy staff, program directors, volunteers and your executive director. Continually assign new donors to their lists. They’ll keep in touch with the ones they know, and establish relationships with new donors. (Stewardship lists can also be sorted by staff member with your CRM.)
Sparks are generated as you schedule coffee dates for thanking donors in person. This gives you the opportunity to introduce donors to other key players within your organization. Key donors will start receiving an occasional call from others in your nonprofit. If detailed notes are kept in the CRM donor record, more than one staff member may call. Staff meetings and board meetings are good times to strategize your approach to individual donors.
2) Thanking Donors with Facebook Live
The magic of Facebook Live sessions is they’re interactive streaming sessions that result in a video recording. With all of its benefit, Facebook Live is free.
Quarterly streaming sessions for thanking donors provides an opportunity to highlight a few donors each time. Add any staff members to the time slot who have a special relationship with those donors. Go into depth on the program their donation has helped. Draw other donors who are listening to get emotionally connected to your programs.
Facebook live videos are shareable on social medial platforms. Fin tips on Facebook Live in our article, Turn Social Media Followers Into Donors.
3) Thank You Letters with Something Extra
When nonprofits thank donors and volunteers they often say, ‘thanks for supporting our organization’. Yet donors actually give in order to make a difference, to change the world in some small way. With this in mind, we share a few tips in writing thank you letters:
- A letter of thanks is nice when a supporter has volunteered, spent time on a project, or endless hours on your board. Expressing your appreciation for their specific efforts and dedication encourages them to continue to give. Too often letters of thanks only come to donors for monetary gifts.
- Thank you letters or emails are important when donors actually have donated money to your charity organization.
- How their donated funds will be used is often missing in nonprofit thank you letters. Taking the time to speak to this will hearten donors, as they want to know how they’ll actually make a difference.
- Enclose a receipt when thanking donors for gifts. Make it obvious in the email just in case they don’t have time to read the whole letter.
- Follow-up letters are key in telling donors of the progress you are making with their money. Keep them engaged as you add to stories of progress and challenge. Continually say thanks.
- Write to donors by name when thanking them. Show them you too the time to consider them by saying Dear Delilah as opposed to Dear Donor.
Your thank you letter is as important as your ask. Leave donors thinking you truly appreciate them through sincere, heartfelt letters.
4) Thanking Donors on Social Media
Story telling about your donors and mission is as engaging as a great book. Add the global reach social media has, and emotionally reaching potential donors is far reaching. They’ll appreciate reading stories about efforts.
Videos and photos tell stories too, especially when captured at your program sites. Perhaps your executive team would create a video status report on impact donations are having. As donors hear how their gifts are building programs they’ll be encouraged. This is a way of thanking them in and of itself.
Publish interviews with donors and volunteers. Express your gratitude during the interview and get their reaction on paper. Ask them why they give to your nonprofit.
5) Thanking Donors with Video
Personalized thank you videos hold the potential to touch donors. They hear your voice and see you say thanks to them in a video they can share. An effective place to create a personalized video thanking donors is onsite. Standing along a river bed a donor’s gift has helped to restore is effective. Take a little care to hold your camera or smart phone steady.
Public video fundraising appeals mixed with thanking donors is a different video flavor. How you dress matters – present yourself professionally in your best look as though you are presenting a business plan to a group of high level investors. Present clarity as to where the money is needed, and how it will be spent. Accomplishments are a key factor in fundraising appeals – thanking donors for your success is truth.
6) Donor Appreciation Events
Thanking donors by holding events provides opportunities, as well as showing your gratitude. You strengthen relationships with donors and get to know them. A casual social mixer is a way to show staff unity and share stories of your nonprofit. Special VIP invites to your wine-tasting fundraiser or charity gala brings new and old supporters closer to your nonprofit fundraising mission.
Another event designed for thanking donors is an open house. Serve refreshments and engage a board member to be an entertaining master of ceremony. Encourage donors and volunteers to bring a friend. Field trips that include a picnic or evening barbecue are also great ways to say thanks to donors.
Reaching out to donors to stay thanks and expressing the impact their gift has keeps them engaged. It offers another chance or reminder for them to donate. Include your nonprofit fundraising website in each fundraising letter, social media post and live streaming broadcast.