Thanksgiving is coming up and it’s a time of year in the U.S. 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 show that you are thankful for your donors.
Wish your donors a Happy Thanksgiving
Send your donors a special Thanksgiving message. If you can send a card or postcard, that’s great, but an email message is also fine.
Let your donors know how grateful you are to have them as part of your family. Share a success story and photo or video. Your donors will appreciate a heartfelt message, especially when they’re being deluged with year-end appeals.
Of course, you can also send cards or email messages during the holidays, Valentine’s Day, or any time of the year. DO NOT include a donation envelope or any other type of ask with your thank you message. This will deflate your donor’s good feelings in an instant.
Be ready to thank your donors right away
If you’re doing a year-end appeal (or any other fundraising campaign), you need to thank your donors right away, within 48 hours if you can.
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.
Make this a priority. You need to start planning how you will thank your donors at the same time you plan your fundraising appeal. Don’t do this alone. Get your board, other staff, and volunteers together to make phone calls, write thank you notes, or include a handwritten note on a thank you letter.
Give your donors an unforgettable thank you experience
When was the last time you received a thank you letter that knocked your socks off? Maybe a couple of times. Maybe never.
Nonprofits often relegate thanking donors to a last-minute process. If you donate online, you get taken to a boring, generic thank you landing page and receive an equally boring thank you email. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a letter, but it’s usually impersonal and filled with mind-numbing jargon that doesn’t make you feel good about your donation.
Start off by sounding like a human and not a robot. Don’t open with On behalf of X organization we thank you for your donation of…. Open with You’re amazing! or Thanks to you, David won’t go to bed hungry tonight.
The second example above gets to the heart of a good thank you.Your donors need to feel valued and know how they’re helping you make difference. This isn’t the time to explain what your organization does or brag about how great you are. The donor is the one who’s great.
Make your thank yous personal. Write as if you’re having a conversation with a friend and leave out any jargon or other information your donors won’t understand.
Create an experience for your donors – an experience that will last as long as your donors support your organization.
Don’t make this one and done
The thank you letter you send after your appeal is just the beginning. You must thank your donors all year round. You can make this easier by creating a thank you plan, which you can incorporate into your communications calendar.
Find ways to say thank you at least once a month. Here are some ideas.
- Create a thank you video and share it on your website, by email, and on social media.
- Send welcome packets to new donors.
- 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.
- Hold an open house at your organization or offer tours so your donors can see your nonprofit up close and personal.
- Thank your donors just because they’re great.
- 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.