It’s All About Your Donors

Image by worldlywonderworks via Flickr 

Most nonprofit organizations rely on fundraising for a good portion of their revenue. They spend a lot of time strategizing and working on sending out appeals,and then it kind of stops. 

Of course,these aspects of fundraising are important, but you need to spend just as much time on donor relations, because it’s all about your donors

Thank your donors right away
Every single donor, no matter how much they have given or whether they donated online, gets a thank you letter mailed to them. Thank you letters should be sent out no later than 48 hours after you have received a donation. This shouldn’t be hard to do. Carve out some time each day you get a donation and send out your thank you letters.

Send out a great thank you letter
Spend as much time creating your thank you letters as you do your annual appeal. Make sure your thank you letters are addressed to a person and not Dear Friend. Instead of the usual,Thank you for your donation of $50….., get creative.  Try something like –
—You are amazing. Your generous donation of $50 will provide Sarah and her brother Michael with brand new coats this winter. Thank you so much.—

This lets your donors know how much you appreciate them and highlights what your organization is doing with their donation. 

You can also invite donors to sign up for your newsletter, visit your website, or call if they have any questions. Whatever you do, don’t ask for another donation in your thank you letter.

Add a personal handwritten note to the letter, preferably something that pertains to that particular donor. For example, if the donor has given before or attended one of your recent events, you could mention that. 

In addition, make sure all the letters are hand signed. Again, this shouldn’t take your Executive Director too long if you are generating thank you letters on a regular basis, as opposed to letting a huge pile of them accumulate.

If possible, consider sending out handwritten notes, but if you can’t do that, send a great printed letter. Here are some examples.

Take an extra step and make thank you calls
Making thank you calls to your donors is a great extra step. This is something your board can do.  Here is more information on getting your board to make thank you calls.
Donors really appreciate thank you calls and it’s a good way to engage your board.

Show appreciation all year round
You don’t want your communication with your donors to end after you send out the thank you letter. Communicate often, between once a week and once a month, sending out messages in which you are not asking for money. A newsletter is a great way to do this. Make sure your newsletter is donor-centered and focus on success stories that demonstrate how you are making a difference with your donors’ contributions. For example, I used to work for a mentoring organization and we would feature a different mentor/mentee match each month in our newsletter. 

Another good way to show appreciation to your donors is to hold an open house at your organization. Offer tours so your donors can see the inner workings of your organization. Make your open house informal and fun,and provide food. Have a brief program that might include a video/power point presentation or a few words from a client. If cost is an issue, you could have food donated.

If you can’t have a gathering at your organization, consider asking a restaurant donate space and some food. Either way, highlight your accomplishments and be sure to thank your donors for have all they have done. Even if your donors don’t come to your open house, they will appreciate the invitation.

Remember, it’s all about your donors. If you treat them well, they’ll treat you well the next time you send out your annual appeal.

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