If you think your work is done after you receive a donation, think again. After a supporter gives to your organization, you need to send them a donation acknowledgement letter. This is more than just another item on your to-do list that you need to check off. This is your chance to go one step further and thank the donor so you have a chance at retaining them and securing another donation in the future.
In this blog post, we’ll explain what donor acknowledgements are, share why they’re important, and give you some examples of creative ways you can thank your donors.
What is a donor acknowledgement?
A donor acknowledgement is the documentation that you provide to a donor that lets them know that their donation was made successfully. It can also function as a way to provide a tax receipt, if the donor needs one.
Why should you acknowledge your donors?
Your donor shouldn’t wonder if their donation was received. Check and see if your email marketing tool or donor management software makes it possible to automate donation receipts. You can make this process as easy and impactful as possible by creating an email template that sends out confirmation of the donation as soon as the donor’s payment has processed on your donation page.
You should also be able to segment your donors into different lists based on different actions the donor has taken. For example, you could set up an automatic report that pulls a list of donors who have given more than $250 to your nonprofit. You could then pass that list along to a board member to make personal phone calls to acknowledge the donors’ gifts.
What are some creative ways you can thank your donors?
Sometimes the email receipt functions as a donor acknowledgement. However, that’s not always the case. In fact, you should be going above and beyond to thank your donors. The more care you put into donor acknowledgements, the better.
Donor acknowledgements come in many different forms. You have the freedom here to be as creative as possible.
1. Send an email
You already have your donors’ email addresses so the fastest way to thank them is by sending a follow-up email. This is an easier way to acknowledge your donors, but it’s important to do it in the right way.
Ideally, your email should include their donation amount, the specific impact it has on your organization, and an additional note of gratitude from your CEO, staff, or board members.
Think about what you would like to receive from a nonprofit organization after you make a donation and make sure your email reflects that. At the end of the day, your donors want to feel like they matter to your organization. Make the email as detailed and personal as you can. This goes for every type of donation acknowledgement you send–no matter the format.
2. Make a phone call
If you have your donors’ phone numbers, you may want to call and thank them. This may not be something you have the time or bandwidth to do for all donation levels so come up with a set of criteria that determines when you’ll pick up the phone.
For example, are you only going to call certain people if they give more than $250? Are you going to regularly call recurring donors throughout the year? What phone calls are you going to make during the giving season?
3. List them on your website
Is there somewhere on your website where you can list your donors? Think about how 5k races often include their sponsors on the back of the race shirts. If you think your donors would appreciate taking up real estate on your nonprofit’s website, find a way to create a special page for them. Just don’t forget to share what their impact means to your organization!
Also, make sure before you share a donor’s name that they are OK with the publicity. Some people want their gifts to be private.
4. Shout them out on social media
If you can’t add a separate page to your nonprofit’s website, that’s OK! You can easily thank them on social media. This is a great way to publicly show how much a donor’s gift means to your organization. As with the website option, make sure your donors are OK with being publicly acknowledged.
5. Write them a letter
Do you have the time and bandwidth to handwrite thank you letters? If you do go with this option, make sure that you get the letter in the mail as soon as possible so your donors know that you’re thinking about them.
6. Mention them in your annual report
Does your nonprofit send out a digital or physical annual report every year? If so, consider creating a page where you list different tiers of donors. For example, your page could include donors that gave the nonprofit $500, $1,000, $5,000, and more.
At the very least, you need to make sure that your donors receive the annual report so they can keep up with how you’re using their donations.
7. Create a thank you video
We’ve written before about how to create a powerful thank you video. This will probably be a heavier lift for your team, but the benefits may be worth it. Check out that blog post for tips on how to create one of your own.
8. Thank them in person
Are your donors local? If so, think about taking the most generous donors out to coffee to thank them in person. Again, this is a more time-consuming option, but think about how special your donors will feel when you ask to meet them and get to know them better.
If you’re not able to meet in person–whether because of a major event like the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic or because you don’t have time–you can send them a gift card to a local coffee shop or restaurant so they can enjoy a cup of coffee or a nice meal.
How else can you show your donors that you appreciate them?
You should also be thinking about how you can reward your donors for their loyalty. For example, you could segment certain donors into a list and make sure they get early access to future events or campaigns. If you sell merchandise, you can offer them discounts to your online store.
If you take away anything from this post, it should be the fact that you need to thank your donors as quickly as possible and in a way that shows how much they mean to your nonprofit. Without them, you wouldn’t be able to carry out your mission. Make sure they know that!
Oh and one more thing: The sooner you have your donor acknowledgment strategy in place, the better. Once you get organized and get a system in place, it’ll be one more thing off your plate and your mind.
Schedule a live demo with our team, and we’ll show you how easy it is to create and automate reports, utilize online and offline fundraising tools, quickly integrate and access all your data, and ultimately create more time to engage your donors.