Be Thankful for Your Donors

6342540955_625d662978_zThanksgiving is a time when we show gratitude to the special people in our lives.  Do you extend this same gratitude to your donors?  Sometimes it doesn’t seem that way.

Nonprofit organizations tend to treat thanking their donors as an afterthought.  But you need to spend just as much time thanking your donors as you do on fundraising.  Here are some ways you can create an attitude of gratitude.

Thanking donors isn’t a process; it’s an experience

First off, don’t think of thanking donors as a process.  Create an experience for your donors –  an experience that will last as long as your donor supports your organization.

Go beyond sending a boring letter that looks like a receipt.  I know you need to include the tax-deductible information, but put that at the end , after you shower your donors with love.

Thank your donors right away

Every single donor, no matter how much they’ve given or whether they donated online, gets a thank you card/ letter mailed to them or receives a phone call.

Try to thank your donors within 48 hours. Carve out some time each day you get a donation and thank your donors.  If this sounds impossible, find other staff or recruit volunteers to help you.

Kick it up a notch with a handwritten note or phone call

This will mean so much more to your donors than the usual generic letter. Calling your donors to thank them is something your board can do. It’s often a welcome surprise and can raise retention rates among first-time donors.

Get everyone involved. Find board members, staff, and volunteers to make phone calls or write thank you notes. Come up with sample phone scripts and notes. You may also want to conduct a short training.

Is this coming from a human?

If you can’t send handwritten cards or call all your donors, send them a personal, heartfelt letter. Don’t start your letter with On behalf of X organization we thank you for your donation of…. Open the letter with You’re incredible, or Thanks to you, Gina won’t have to sleep in her car anymore,  or one of these 22 Delightful Ways to Say Thank You!

I’m amazed how many thank you letters sound so stilted.  Just because it’s generated by a computer, doesn’t mean it has to sound like one.  The same goes for thank you landing pages and thank you emails.

Make it personal. Write as if you’re having a conversation with a friend.

This is the beginning a beautiful friendship

You want to keep thanking your donors all year round.  One way to make it easier for you is to create a thank you plan, which you can incorporate into your communications calendar.

Try say thank you at least once a month. Here are some ways to do that.

  • Send cards or email messages at Thanksgiving, during the holidays, Valentine’s Day, or mix it up a little and send a note of gratitude at another time of the year when your donors  are less likely to expect it.
  • Invite your donors to connect with you via email and social media. Keep them updated with accomplishments and success stories. Making all your communications donor-centered will help convey an attitude of gratitude.
  • Always thank your donors in your newsletter and social media updates. Emphasize that you wouldn’t be able to do the work you do without  their support.
  • Create a thank you video and share it on your website, by email, and on social media. A Few Great Thank You Videos
  • Hold an open house at your organization or offer tours so your donors can see your nonprofit up close and personal.
  • Keep thinking of other ways to thank your donors.

This Thanksgiving and throughout the year, be thankful for your donors.  Treat them well so you can ensure a long-term relationship.

This post was in included in the November 2014 Nonprofit Blog Carnival  November Nonprofit Blog Carnival | An Attitude of Gratitude

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