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How to Thank Your Donors and Secure Future Gifts: 4 Tips

As the backbone of your nonprofit, your donors empower your organization to achieve and even surpass your goals. It’s essential to show your genuine appreciation for their gifts and make them feel secure in their investments. Thanking them for their support and showing them the impacts of their gifts is a crucial part of strengthening donor relations and demonstrating that you’re achieving results with their funds.

That being said, your nonprofit should think outside of the box when it comes to showing your gratitude. Ditch the generic “Dear valued donor” email template and follow these tips to create personalized, meaningful messages that your donors will never forget.

1. Send Personalized Thank-You E-Cards

In today’s fast-paced age of texting and social media, you can instantly catch your donors’ attention by sending personalized eCards. While writing handwritten thank-you notes is an important way to steward major donors, eCards are faster, greener, cheaper, and more visually stimulating than snail mail cards. 

Plus, you can still customize your eCards by addressing them to each donor and adding your organization’s branding and designs that represent your cause. For instance, take a look at this example from eCardWidget:

Who doesn’t love feeling celebrated every once in a while? Take your gratitude past the thank-you card stage by organizing donor appreciation events where it’s all about your supporters. Here are several suggestions for nonprofits of all sizes and scopes:

The eCard features Habitat for Humanity’s branding, including its logo, colors, and pictures of beneficiaries. Also, the eCard has customizable features, such as the ability to add the recipient’s and sender’s name as well as a personal message. All of these elements come together to make a truly unique and heartfelt eCard that the recipient won’t soon forget.

To get started, pick an eCard provider that specializes in donor recognition, allows you to personalize your eCards, and provides data on your marketing strategy’s effectiveness. Then, create donor segments so that you can send customized cards to different groups based on donation size or frequency. Finally, design e-cards that demonstrate your genuine appreciation and send them off via email. 

2. Recognize Donors on Social Media

Social media is a useful tool for accessing your donors’ networks online and spreading awareness of your cause. By thanking your donors on your social media accounts, you can publicly highlight your initiatives and encourage people from their lives to contribute. Some easy ways to feature donors on social media include:

  • Publishing a photo of a specific donor, their story, and a report of their gift’s impact
  • Asking donors to author guest posts about their experiences with your nonprofit
  • Filming one-on-one interviews with donors

To boost visibility, tag your donors in the appreciation posts so they can see and share the content on their feeds and attract more attention to your organization. 

Keep in mind that you might have donors who aren’t comfortable with appearing on your social media. Remember to respect your donors’ privacy by only posting about them if they give you permission. Establish a content release policy that outlines the purpose of each post and exactly what will be shared so they aren’t surprised when you publish content.

3. Start Donor Appreciation Initiatives

  • Donor recognition dinner: You can either take a formal approach to this with a multi-course meal or simply invite donors to a potluck dinner. Either approach facilitates relationship building and unites your supporters over good food.
  • Donor Appreciation Day: This is a great annual event to throw for donors and their families. Plan special activities and events throughout the day, such as meet-and-greets with beneficiaries, games for the kids, and, of course, free food!
  • Contribution reward points system: Repay your donors for their loyalty to your nonprofit by instating a points-based system. For every dollar a donor gives, they’ll receive a certain amount of points that can be traded in for prizes. Consider offering gift cards, branded merchandise, or tickets to experiences around town as thanks for your donors’ generosity. 
  • Donor raffle: Make donating more exciting by automatically entering supporters in a raffle once they donate a certain amount. Then, pick a winner and give them a special prize. This is a cost-effective way to brighten a lucky donor’s day!
  • Donor hall of fame induction ceremony: Some donors go above and beyond and permanently shape your nonprofit. Cement their lasting legacy by inducting them into your donor hall of fame. You can even host annual ceremonies, complete with a dinner and speech from the inductee, to make them feel extra special. Whether your hall of fame is a row of photos in your office or a wall engraved with names, your donors will love leaving their mark on your nonprofit.

Pick an initiative that aligns with your budget, donor preferences, and schedule. Then, segment your donor community and start sending your save-the-date invitations!

4. Start Donor Circles

Fortifying your donors’ connection with your nonprofit requires more than building relationships on the staff side. Your donors should also get to know each other so they can feel like a part of your community. 

Bring your supporters together by inviting them to join an exclusive donor group. You can offer benefits such as these suggestions from Fundraising Letters:

  • Invitations to social gatherings and events with fellow members
  • Opportunities to provide feedback on the direction of your nonprofit’s work
  • Networking events with like-minded people

For instance, if your organization is an art museum, you might create a major donor circle that offers members the chance to vote on pieces of art for the museum to acquire. In addition to voting, members can meet up to network and socialize with your staff and each other.

A donor circle facilitates community-building and helps your donors get personally involved with your nonprofit’s initiatives, ultimately leading to a deepened attachment to your organization. 

The Bottom Line

Showing your heartfelt gratitude to your donors is what will keep them coming back to give over time. Whether you’re just getting started or taking your appreciation efforts to the next level, there are many ways to cultivate a thankful culture in your organization. 

Start small, such as adding eCards to your donor cadence. Next, ramp up your planning efforts to create large-scale annual events for your donors to look forward to. Ultimately, remember to put your heart into your messages, just as your supporters did when they invested in your organization!

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