We all know how important it is to thank your donors.
However, while anything is better than nothing, you need to do more than saying thank you in a donation receipt email. Being thoughtful about how you thank your donors will help build rapport with them and improve the odds that they’ll come back and make the second (or golden) donation.
What better time to start thanking your donors than during the end-of-year giving season? In this post, I’ll cover some standby ideas and hopefully spark new ones for how to switch it up when saying thanks.
Here are 9 ways to thank your donors.
1. Send them a text.
One way to see how meaningful this option can be is to try it for yourself. Pick five friends or people who have been on your mind and send them a text like this one:
Just wanted to let you know how grateful I am for you and that I appreciate you. Hope you have a great day!
People are used to nonprofits reaching out to ask for donations. Sending a text where the only purpose is to show your appreciation can make your donor’s day and further endear them to your cause.
2. Mail them a handwritten card.
Some things never go out of style. Even in an increasingly digital-first world, getting something in the mail is refreshing and can be heartwarming.
Tip: Don’t wait until it’s time to thank a donor to send them a card! Random cards catch donors by surprise and show that you’re thinking about them.
3. Send them seeds.
Sending seeds is a small, unexpected way to add a little something extra to your thank you card or package. In your message, include something like, “Thank you for helping us grow our organization.”
Or, to get even more creative, you can send specific seeds and tailor your puns accordingly:
“We appreciate your thyme and support.”
“Your gift mint a lot to us!”
4. Send them a photo and story of someone your organization serves.
Donors want to know that you used their gift to help the people or cause that you serve.
So, the next time you reach out to say thanks, share a story that shows how they helped you carry out your mission. This kind of communication can be extremely effective as it personalizes your mission.
If you’re sharing one person’s story (with their permission, of course), see if you can have them sign the card. For another alternative, you could have everyone on your staff sign their name.
5. Invite them to your office for an exclusive tour.
Another way to show donors the work you’re doing is to invite them to spend some time with you. Many donors appreciate this inside look at what you’re doing—and it often leaves them with a positive lasting impression.
If you’re not offering in-person tours at the moment, consider setting them up via Zoom or another video communication platform.
6. Change who reaches out to say thanks.
Consider sending thank you notes from different sources. That can look like having a board member write a thank you note that includes what the gift meant to the organization and the work you’ve done and plan to do in the future. You could also have a volunteer write a thank you note, which would give a better look at the ways one person can support your organization. As I mentioned above, another great way to show your mission at work is to have a beneficiary write or sign the note.
Getting thank you notes from different people will remind donors that real people like them are working to do important work and help them see the impact of their gift from various perspectives.
7. Mail them swag or merch.
This is a more costly method of saying thanks, but it’s one that can really pay off. Order shirts, socks, hats, masks, pens, mugs, or other items. Then, add your logo, your mission statement, or a fun saying that’s relative to your mission.
When you’re ready to go, send the swag—and make sure it’s a surprise, if possible. Not only will it be a nice gesture, but it’s also great branding and the gift will help your organization stay on top of your donors’ minds.
Tip: Invite them to post a photo of themselves with their gift and tag your nonprofit so more people are introduced to your cause. This might inspire donations from people who weren’t previously familiar with your organization.
8. Make a video.
Thanks to the video software solutions out there, you don’t have to be super tech savvy to create a donor thank you video. Come up with a simple script for a short video. If possible, when sending a video to a specific donor, personalize the video and include their name in the greeting.
Tip: Go one step further and remind them of the specific gift they gave and share the impact the gift had on your mission.
9. Thank them publicly.
If a donor gives a particularly large or unique gift, consider how you can feature them on your social media platforms or include their names on your website or somewhere at your headquarters.
This works especially well when the gift is something tangible, like an in-kind donation, meal, or supplies.
Tip: Before you share their name or photo, make sure the donor is comfortable with being publicly acknowledged.
Check with your team before you send a gift.
Finally, I recommend checking with your legal team or financial advisor about what you can and can’t send to donors. Many states have rules about what types of gifts are allowed and what your organization can’t or shouldn’t send.
I hope these suggestions gave you some inspiration for how to thank your donors, and I’m excited to see how thanking your donors in new ways helps your organization grow during this important time of year.
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