Thursday Thoughts: Giving Thanks to Donors
Welcome to another installment of Thursday Thoughts, a dedicated space for our friends in nonprofit sector leadership to reflect on reports, statistics, and other trends—because when our community shares knowledge, we can all do more good. Check out last month’s post here!
With the season of giving upon us, many nonprofits are busy giving thanks to their donors. We asked our partners: what are some creative and impactful ways nonprofits can thank donors and supporters for their generosity? How can creative acknowledgments make an impact on your fundraising goals, like improved donor acquisition and retention rates? Here’s what MissionWired and K2D Strategies said.
Between Black Friday deals, GivingTuesday appeals, and e-vites to ugly sweater parties, your audience’s inboxes are about to be more overstuffed than a holiday turkey. But there are little things organizations can do to break through the noise during the season of giving, elevate the key role donors and supporters play in their mission, and lead to stronger conversion and retention rates in the future. We’ve written a lot about standing out in inboxes and donor cultivation and retention, but here are some of our favorite ideas:
Give donors the spotlight. Special campaigns like Donor Appreciation Week offer a variety of ways to recognize your supporters’ generosity to new heights. Robust impact reports can draw a line from donor gifts to world-changing work, while fun assets like digital badges or social media profile photo frames can amplify your reach as supporters proudly identify themselves as donors to your cause. You can even solicit first-person stories from your audience about why they choose to support your work, then broadcast those over email or social media to add a face to those who power your mission.
Offer a premium – no strings attached. While it’s not feasible to send every donor a free piece of swag, we’ve seen organizations send established monthly donors a unique code for their choice of special merchandise item, with no additional donation required. Donors can simply head to the special webstore, enter their code, and receive an item at their address on file. It’s a great way to give back to your most committed supporters, and get a little bit of visibility and free advertising out of it, too.
Follow up in diverse ways. The key to successfully cultivating long-term supporters is to consider what communication format and frequency would be best for each individual. For some organizations, it’s giving multiple-gift donors the opportunity to opt into lower email volume, while others have seen success launching even more channels – like a texting program for mid-level donors that allows them to receive timely messaging about the program in a more personalized channel than email. Every audience is different, so experiment and find what works for your supporters.
Since 2007, MissionWired has helped world-changing nonprofits like Save the Children, USO, AmeriCares, Sandy Hook Promise, the Gates Foundation, and dozens more power their incredible missions – raising more than $1 billion online in low-dollar grassroots donations.
Saying “thank you” to your donors is arguably the most important thing a nonprofit can do to show that you value and want to retain their support. Consider these creative and impactful ways to express your gratitude:
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Repackage! Do you have assets that you’ve invested in but have not gotten enough visibility with? Have you created an incredible video, a regular podcast, a content-rich report or white paper, or a digital photo album? Maybe it’s surplus premiums sitting in inventory like water bottles, bumper stickers, or socks? Use your confirmation communications to repurpose these items as tokens of gratitude and appreciation. Plus, using them to thank donors and supporters helps raise your brand awareness!
Leverage technology. EveryAction makes automated series especially efficient! After thanking your constituent for taking action, follow up with an email series showing the work your organization is doing. You can also ask for a monthly gift since you know they are committed to your mission.
Be light-hearted, and have some fun! If your confirmation communication is digital, consider integrating fun imagery like animated gifs. Incorporate some humor, some word-play, or puns. But most of all, just convey your utter (or maybe “otter” if your focus is animal welfare) appreciation!
Remember to make your communications timely, authentic, and personal. Clearly convey to donors how their gift specifically is making an impact, and your acts of gratitude can make a serious impact on your overall donor retention this year.
K2D Strategies works exclusively with nonprofits making the world a better place through a simple goal: using their decades of experience to deliver impactful member and donor development strategies, and provide extraordinary client services.