Make an Investment to Thank Your Donors

Nonprofit organizations need to do a better job of thanking their donors. Many spend a lot of time on their fundraising appeals, and then well, that’s about it….
You need to spend as much time thanking your donors as you do on your fundraising appeals.                                           

Think of it as an investment. You put in resources (time, money, etc) and in return you should get loyal donors who will support you long-term.  This is crucial since well over half of new donors don’t give a second gift.
Invest time in thanking your donors
Ideally, your donors should get a handwritten thank you card or a phone call.  Even though these take more time, it’s time well spent.
At many of the small nonprofits I’ve worked at, it was all hands on deck to get out our fundraising appeals.  Staff and volunteers would stuff envelopes and write handwritten notes on the letters.
Do the same when you thank your donors, at least for the initial influx of donations.  Get your board involved in making phone calls or writing cards.  Recruit volunteers to help, too.
Also, what is prohibiting you from taking time to thank your donors?  Is it a meeting you could skip?
Remember to thank your donors as soon as possible
Take time each day you get a donation to make phone calls, write cards, or send letters.  Don’t let board members put off making calls or let a stack of letters sit on your ED’s desk.
Invest money in thanking your donors
If you aren’t mailing handwritten cards because you can’t afford to, is there a way to change that?
You may be able to get a print shop to produce your cards pro bono.  Can you allocate more money in your budget?  If not, look into additional sources of unrestricted funding to cover printing and mailing costs.
Many nonprofits are cutting back on mailing and relying on email and social media to communicate.  This isn’t always wise, especially if you have donors who don’t communicate electronically (and some don’t).
Invest in a good database
A good database (Excel is not a database) will help you segment your donors. Now you can make your thank yous more personal.
You want to welcome new donors and recognize repeat gifts.  You can also add personal bits of information to thank you letters/notes, such as it was nice to see the donor at a recent event.
Speaking of new donors, something else you should invest in is a welcome package. Create a warm welcome for new donors
Invest in quality communications
No matter how you thank your donors, you want your messages and look to be high quality.
This starts with your thank you landing page.  Many of them look like store receipts.  Open with a friendly thank you message and share an engaging photo.  Then you can include the tax ID info etc.
Write a heartfelt thank you message in your cards or letters.  Start out by saying Thanks to you or You’re amazing.  Give an example of how the donor’s gift will help you make a difference.  Be personal and leave out any jargon.
Even if you are sending a printed thank you letter or email, there is no excuse not to take a little extra time to make it personal.

Your donors are making an investment by supporting your organization.  Make an investment in them by doing a good job of showing your appreciation and sustaining a relationship with them.

Photo by ota_photos via  Flickr                                                                                                                                          

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