6 Ways to Thank Your Donors
Sumac Research. January, 2012.
Showing your appreciation to donors is incredibly important. It’s what keeps them giving. Most non-profits turn to thank you letters. If carefully crafted, they will certainly do the trick, but there are many other ways to show your appreciation. Here are six of them along with some tips, examples and resources.
Videos (to see videos go to original piece)
What’s great about video is that it allows you to express emotions that are sometimes lost in print. And because almost every phone and camera comes with a video recorder, they are really easy to make! Think about getting your staff involved, like charity: water did:
Or, you can film the people helped by your organization like The Children’s Hospital Foundation did in this very touching thank you video:
Find more great advice and examples in How to Make a Great Thank you Video.
Pictures that show what your supporters’ donations made possible are a great way to thank donors. Avoid reusing pictures from your website or using pictures that are too “commercial” looking. Remember, the purpose is not marketing, so keep it authentic. If you choose the right one, it will do all the work of saying thanks!
You can mail out the pictures like postcards with a short thank you note on the back, or if you are working on a tight budget, you can send out the picture as an email instead. It could just be as simple as a picture and a short note, or it could be more. Check out this post in Kivi’s Nonprofit Communication Blog for an example of what she describes as an awesome thank you email.
Thank You Pages
If you accept donations on your website, you can also thank donors by taking them to a “thank you” page after the donation is made. You can enhance this page with a video or story like charity: water does here. You can also personalize the page. Since you’ve now got the donor’s name, you can incorporate it into the text or image on the page.
Social Media Shout-Outs
Social media can also be used to thank donors. Maybe you could post a donor list on your Facebook page every week or send a shout out via twitter every time someone donates over a certain amount. You’ll just have to make sure you have permission before using a donor’s name in this way.
If you really want to leave a good impression with your donors, send them a hand-written note in a regular envelope with a real stamp. Nothing says, I want to thank you personally better than that! Don’t have the resources to spend on handwritten notes? Get volunteers to write them. Just give them a template and let them go. Hand-written notes will leave a lasting impression with donors and create a bond that will make it very difficult to walk away.
Personal Phone Calls
Lastly, you can set some time aside to call donors and thank them personally. The results of doing this are amazing! According to Penelope Burk’s research, outlined in Donor Centred Fundraising, Donors who received a thank you phone call from a board member gave 39% more the next time they were solicited. After 14 months, those called were giving 42% more. So, even though you can’t call them all, selecting just a few to call each week can have a huge impact. Just as with hand-written notes, this is something you can get trained volunteers to do.
With so many ways to thank your donors, there really is no excuse why each every one of your donors shouldn’t be bursting with appreciation! If they aren’t, jump in and start thanking – you won’t believe the difference it will make!
Don’t just stick with one method, though. You can thank donors several times in different ways. Let’s say a donor contributes online. How good do you think that donor is going to feel if s/he gets a thank you immediately after on your interactive page… then gets a hand-written note in the mail a few days later… then gets a link to a thank you video at the end of the year? Pretty darn good!
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