By Kelsey Boudin
President and Founder, Southern Tier Communications Strategies, LLC
Nonprofit donors are selfless, right? Of course, they’re giving freely and willingly to support a mission they stand behind. But let’s think about donor motivations. There’s the call to be truly philanthropic, to help communities, to enhance missions that align with their values.
Some aim to leave a legacy. Some want a tax break. Often, it’s a combination of all of it.
Under it all, there’s still that little – or big – draw for recognition. Don’t believe me? We’ll do a little human experiment. Have you ever made a nonprofit donation, big or small, and NOT received a thank you note of some kind? No email or text message even saying your donation has been processed? It happens, right?
“The betrayal! No thank you note?” you think. It’s easy to look at the receiving organization and think, “Well, I guess they don’t appreciate my donation.”
Are you likely to give again? Probably not. So the benefit of thanking your donors, funders and other supporters – promptly and often – can improve your nonprofit fundraising strategy exponentially.
Ways to Thank Nonprofit Donors to Earn Their Loyalty
Here’s your proof. Nonprofit donors who are thanked within 48 hours of giving are 400 times more likely to give again. Considering the amount of time, effort and resources it takes to acquire new donors, trying to keep current donors is much more cost-effective. But at that, keep in mind the average donor retention rate is less than 25%.
With odds stacked against you no matter what, the least you can do is improve your chances with a little thank you.
1. Send a Personal Thank You Note
A handwritten note or an email is a simple yet powerful way to show your appreciation for your donors. It doesn’t have to be anything special. A simple, “Thank you. Your generous gift of $(insert dollar amount) will go a long way toward (your mission),” should do the trick. Even better, emails and text messages can be automated to be sent immediately after the donation is processed. (Why make your donors wait for appreciation?)
Personalizing your message with the donor’s name and acknowledging the specific donation amount can make the thank you note even more meaningful. You can also include a brief update on how the donation will be used to advance your organization’s mission.
2. Thank Donors Publicly
Recognizing donors publicly can help build a sense of community around your organization and show others the impact of their donations. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter can be a great way to thank donors publicly and encourage others to support your cause.
If you have a newsletter, annual report or quarterly magazine, those are also great avenues to give thanks. As you’re likely aware, many organizations have tiered donation levels – gold, silver, bronze, etc. – to acknowledge their biggest donors’ levels of commitment. (Helpful hint: community givers with really deep pockets rarely shy away from having their names next to big numbers.)
It’s social proof. And that’s worth so much toward promoting your mission.
3. Provide Regular Updates
Donors like to see their philanthropy in action. They want to know their hard-earned money is being put to good use. Hopefully, in collecting their donations, you’ve also collected your donors’ contact information.
Keeping donors informed about your organization’s progress and impact can help them feel connected to your mission and motivated to continue supporting your cause. Providing regular updates on the impact of their donations, such as success stories or progress reports, can help donors feel appreciated and invested in your organization’s mission.
4. Invite Donors to Events
Hosting events such as fundraisers and galas may be a part of your fundraising strategy. Or you may just have an open house periodically to invite the community and stakeholders in to see your mission first-hand.
Open houses can be a great way to connect with donors and show them how their donations are making a difference. Invite them! Inviting donors to these events and officially recognizing them can help build stronger relationships and nurture a sense of community among your supporters.
5. Send a Small Gift
Sending a small token of appreciation, like a branded pen or tote bag, can be a great way to show your gratitude to donors (if you can afford it). Not only does this gesture show that you value their support, but it can also serve as a reminder of your organization’s mission and the impact their donation is making.
Let’s Thank Your Nonprofit Donors So They’ll Return Again For Support
Nonprofit donors are the lifeblood of your organization, and showing them that their support matters can make all the difference. Thank them promptly – and often – to build that trust and nurture a relationship. Thanking donors can help to build a positive reputation for the nonprofit. Trust me, it’s a powerful branding thing that can resonate strongly with repeat donors and spread into the community to bring more potential donors to the table.
The consequence of not expressing thanks? Nonprofit donors who feel ignored may quickly lose interest and stop supporting the organization altogether.
So let’s take time to craft messages of thanks. It’s all part of the vast field of nonprofit communications, which aims to promote missions and engage stakeholders in every place and at every step. If you’re having difficulty crafting your nonprofit story for fundraising, don’t hesitate to hire an experienced communications consultant to hone your messaging.