When it’s time to brainstorm ideas on how to increase revenue in a nonprofit, the focus is on the various fundraising methods at your disposal. But always remember this—if fundraising is the most important activity to the sustainability of your organization, then thanking donors is the second most important. Because as experience has indicated, gratitude is probably the best and easiest way to ensure the continued support of your donors.
The case for thanking donors isn’t just about good manners—science supports it. Research has made it clear that most large gifts are made after five years of giving. Since thanking donors is crucial to retaining them, it means it’s also the only way to get those large gifts.
And when asked why they stopped giving, not getting acknowledgement for the donation came up as one of the reasons. Also, you have to remember that retaining donors for the long term means you will increase their lifetime value.
In this article, you will discover the seven best ways to thank your donors, partners, and well-wishers. The best part with most of these is that they are cost-effective.
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7 ways to thank your donors
1. Send personalized emails or handwritten notes
Almost every nonprofit sends thank you emails soon after a donation is made. However, the problem with such emails is they feel like a courtesy. So, personalizing them is a great way to ensure they stand out.
You need to go beyond just having their name or donation amount in the email. If you have good CRM software, you should be able to see every interaction you have had with the donor. Some information you can have in your donor database could include their interests, event attendances, participation in advocacy campaigns, major gifts they have made, recurring donations, volunteer involvement, etc. – all of which can help you craft a meaningful gratitude note.
And if you want to go the extra mile, you can turn the email into a handwritten note. Most people hold on to such notes because they are unique in a digital world.
2. Send social media shout-outs
One of the best ways to get your donors to give more, and to show them that you truly appreciate them, is to thank them publicly. This could even motivate community members and supporters to become donors. You can have a video or a written post mentioning the donor by name, and what they have done to deserve your appreciation.
Before doing this, ask for permission from the donor, and allow them to send you their photo or video. Also, it would be nice to include a testimonial about why they believe in your cause.
3. Show the impact of the donations
Sometimes, the best way to thank your donors is simply by showing the impact of their donation. In an Accenture study, about 80% of the respondents said that it’s “important to know the real outcomes of their charitable donations or volunteer work with nonprofit organizations.”
And don’t just give facts and statistics—instead, use stories so you have a bigger emotional impact. Also, take the dollars-to-impact approach, where you make it clear how far their donation will go. Don’t say, “your $50 donation will help.” Instead say, “your gift of $50 will feed a child for 5 days.”
4. Send birthday/anniversary cards
People only expect close friends and family to remember their birthdays or anniversaries. This is why this is one of the most memorable ways to thank them and stand out—not many nonprofits do it. You can send them a card on their birthday or on the anniversary of a large donation they made. Or it could be for when they joined your monthly giving program. Or any other big event worth celebrating in their life.
All this information will be readily available in your donor database. This is why you should focus on collecting as much information as you can every time you get a chance. This is one of the ways in which you will be able to strengthen your relationship with your donors.
5. Feature donors in your monthly newsletter
Since regular email communication is one of the best ways to keep in touch with donors, it is also a great medium for thanking your donors. Don’t let your newsletter only focus on your updates and news.
Mention your donors, partners, or well-wishers by name. Share their story, their dedication to supporting you, and their journey with your community at large.
6. Host a thank-you party
Hosting a party can be expensive. But this shouldn’t keep you from using this as a way of thanking your donors. Small-scale parties are just as effective. And sometimes, you can just take the donor out for dinner or coffee.
Also, now with the advancement in tech, you can host such parties fully online. This will be much cheaper. And you will be able to accommodate more donors than you ever could offline.
7. Make a phone call
Organizing a phone-a-thon can also be a great strategy for thanking your donors. Of course, you can’t call everyone—but you can focus on your most valuable donors. These calls can be made during holidays, at the end of the year or after they have made a significant donation.
Since this will require great phone skills, ensure you train all the people to take part in this activity. Also, consider producing a script so your callers can use it as a guide—this will ensure that the calls are done right. Remember, the goal is to build a connection and not make it feel like a courtesy.
Always trying to acquire new donors so you can increase your revenue is great. But you need to ensure that you are retaining the donors you already have. And showing a little gratitude will go a long way. This is the cheapest and most effective way to increase your fundraising revenue.