Not long ago while I was scrolling through my email, one message stood out. It was a thank you video from a nonprofit organization. A week or so before that I received a thank you card from another nonprofit.
Unfortunately, those are the only examples of #DonorLove from the last few weeks that I can share with you. I’d also like to tell you I received a bunch of wonderful thank yous after I made my year-end gifts, but I can’t. Most of them were automatically generated thank you emails or the usual boring form letter.
We can do better!
I don’t know where your organization stands, but if you’re like many, you’re sleepwalking through your #DonorLove practice. Thanking your donors is not a we do this after we receive a donation and then we don’t have to do anything situation.
#DonorLove is something you need to show all year-round and with Valentine’s Day coming up, it’s a perfect opportunity to thank your donors and show how much you appreciate their support.
Maybe you would rather not go the Valentine’s Day route, but you should still do something to show appreciation this month (and every month). The holidays are over and February can be a dreary month. Your donors would appreciate a little mood booster.
This is also a good opportunity to keep in touch with the people who gave to your year-end appeal, especially first-time donors. If you haven’t shown any #DonorLove since your year-end appeal, don’t wait much longer.
Here are a few ways you can show some #DonorLove.
Create a thank you photo
Make your donor’s day with a great photo, like this.
You can send thank you photos via email and social media, use one to create a card, and include one on your thank you landing page.
Make a video
Videos are becoming an increasingly popular way to connect. Here’s a link to the thank you video I recently received.
It’s simple, yet effective, so don’t worry if you weren’t a film major. It’s not too hard to create a video.
One idea for your video is to show a bunch of people saying thank you. You’ll want your video to be short, donor-centered, and show your organization’s work up close and personal.
Your thank you landing page is a perfect place to put a video. This is your first opportunity to say thank you and most landing pages are just boring receipts. You can also put your thank you video on your website and share it by email and social media.
Send a card
A handwritten note will also brighten your donor’s day. If you don’t have the budget to send cards to everyone, send them to your most valuable donors. These may not be the ones who give you the most money. Do you have donors who have supported your organization for more than three years? How about more than five years? These are your valuable donors. Don’t take them for granted.
That said, I do think you should make every effort to send a card to ALL your donors at least once a year. You can spread it out so you mail a certain number of cards each month, ensuring all your donors get one sometime in the year. I also think it’s nice to send something during times of the year when donors might least expect it, such as May or September.
Most organizations don’t send thank you cards, so you’ll stand out if you do.
Share an update or success story
In addition to saying thank you, share a brief update or success story. Emphasize how you couldn’t have helped someone without your donor’s support. For example –Thanks to you, Jeremy won’t go to bed hungry tonight.
Phrases like Thanks to you or Because of you should dominate your newsletters and updates.
Back to basics
Make this the year you do a better job of thanking your donors. Thank your donors right away and send a thank you note/letter or make a phone call. Electronic thank yous aren’t good enough.
Be personal and conversational when you thank your donors. Don’t use jargon or other language they won’t understand. Write from the heart, but be sincere. Give specific examples of how your donors are helping you make a difference.
Make thanking your donors a priority
I’m a big proponent of communicating by mail, even if it’s only a few times a year. It’s much more personal. Yet, many nonprofits are skittish about spending too much on mailing costs.
If your budget doesn’t allow you to mail handwritten cards, is there a way you can change that? You may be able to get a print shop to donate cards. You could also look for additional sources of unrestricted funding to cover cards and postage. Think of these as essential expenses.
Maybe you need a change of culture – a culture of gratitude. This comes from the top, but you also need to get your board, all staff, and volunteers invested and involved in thanking your donors.
You can’t say thank you enough. Make a commitment to thank your donors at least once a month. Create a thank you plan to help you with this. Planning ahead and creating systems makes a difference.
Keep thinking of ways to show some #DonorLove. Stand out and impress your donors.
You don’t even need to wait for a holiday or special occasion. Just thank your donors because they’re amazing and you wouldn’t be able to make a difference without them.