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Donor Recognition Ideas: 10 Easy Ways To Thank Donors

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Published: Jan 25, 2019

The basis of your donor recognition ideas must start with the question: What’s the simplest way to retain donors?
Saying thank you, of course!

Thanking donors is the most important thing you can do for your stewardship plan. It’s not just an expression of gratitude; it’s a way of building and maintaining relationships.

Donor recognition encourages recurring donations and motivates existing donors to play a more active role in your organization. It can be in the form of volunteering for your cause or taking on the mantle of a nonprofit ambassador.

But when it comes to saying thanks, small and mid-sized organizations do not have enough resources to throw large events or give lavish gifts. Well, you need not worry about that. In this article, we’ve made a list of 10 creative (and the least expensive) ways to thank your donors, which makes them feel their contributions are being recognized and valued.

10 donor recognition ideas you must consider

Schedule phone calls with donors

Phone calls are the most personal form of nonprofit communication. When your donors hear from your organization, it helps build trust and authenticity and strengthens your connection.

A call center software comes in handy in this situation. You can segment your donor lists (by major donors, new donors, and other donors), make notes, and keep a check on the number of calls made. Based on the size and volume of gifts, determine which staff member is responsible for the thank-you calls to recognize donors. For example, board members can be responsible for calls to major donors and volunteers, or staff members can call small donors. Do this after a major campaign or once every month.

Make “Thank-You” videos for major donors

Recognizing your donors and appreciating them doesn’t have to be reserved for your year-end campaign. You can acknowledge your donors’ gifts with a simple thank you video any time of the year. Videos are impactful in a way letters and emails aren’t. They not only help your donors connect with your volunteers and campaigns but also can be shared with a large audience.

For example, Charity: Water has over 200,000 supporters, but they still haven’t lost sight of the importance of thanking donors in a personal way. These thank yous are not just for big donors. In fact, they share thank you videos every day on their YouTube channel to make personal connections with other donors as well.

Social media shout-outs

Social media can be used for more than just promoting your campaigns. You can use it to build authentic relationships with your audience and to give shout-outs and thank yous to donors as public recognition. By doing this, you’re letting donors know you’ve received their donation, and you appreciate it. If you’re a large nonprofit, address your donors as a group and highlight significant contributors. Smaller organizations must focus on highlighting donor contributions regularly (regardless of the gift size) to nurture relationships and build loyalty. Add a social media account information field to your online donation forms to collect your donors’ Facebook or Twitter handles.

Website appreciation as part of donor recognition ideas

Your website is where your potential supporters go to to learn more about your organization and decide whether to support you or not. It is also the best place to show public appreciation for your donors and supporters. Create a section on your website where you can post a donor thank you message to a broad audience which shows them that you’re grateful for their contributions and the impact they’ve created. Apart from this, also highlight your important donors and contributors.

Read Next: How to Get Your Lapsed Donor to Donate Once Again.

Send acknowledgment texts

Text messages can be used to add a personal touch to your donor appreciation. Plus they have the added advantage of being a scalable medium. Address people by their first names and tell them the impact of their contribution. In case you’re running against the clock, a text messaging software can be used to schedule messages, personalize them for each donor, and to record responses. If you’re a small nonprofit, or just starting one, sending texts will help you build personal connections, nurture relationships and gather feedback.

You May Also Like: Donor Appreciation Letter: Everything You Need To Know To Craft The Perfect One.

Send email newsletters

After a donation is made, send donors an email thanking them for their gift. Get personal; start your message with the donor’s name and highlight their donation amount. Also, keep donor interests in mind when drafting your email. Donors like to know what you plan to do with their money, so tell stories or outline how the donation will impact the lives of people. You can show the impact by sharing photos of the campaign or people that your donors want to help. You can also include a “donor hall of fame” or virtual “donor recognition walls” in your newsletters which mentions the donors who contributed that month. This serves as a good motivator for people to donate and also shows public appreciation for their contributions.

Read Next: Ending The Year With A Smile: How To Write The Perfect Year-end Thank You Letter.

Host donor appreciation events

Events are a great way to meet your donors face-to-face and give you an opportunity to thank them publically. Host annual donor appreciation events (towards the end of the year) for major donors or recurring donors. It need not be big or fancy. Organize a simple wine tasting event, a barbeque, or even a picnic. Treat it like a get-together where you’re focusing on making conversations, thanking supporters, making personal connections, increasing donor network, and promoting your work.

Donor Recognition Ideas philadelphia fight event invitation

Credits: Philadelphia FIGHT

Send anniversary cards

A good way to thank and recognize the contributions of recurring nonprofit donors is by sending them anniversary cards. Send them a personalized card (with your organization’s logo) to thank them for their loyalty a year after they’ve made their first contribution. Getting it signed by your CEO or a board member is a nice touch to building relationships.

Read Next: 50% of Donors Don’t Return – Donor Retention Strategies to Reduce Churn.

Handwritten notes for donor retention

Although old-fashioned, handwritten notes are a great way to express gratitude and to show your donors that they’re worth your time. Craft your thank-you notes as if you’re sending them to an old friend. Getting it signed by your nonprofit organization’s board members adds authenticity to it. You can send these handwritten notes after they make a second donation or when they’ve attended an event of yours. Also, make sure to talk about the importance of their gift.

Donor Recognition Ideas thank you donor letter

Credits: PACE University

Thank you gifts or tokens

Giving your major supporters a physical token for their contributions is another good way to show gratitude. Design a variety of small things –– from mugs to calendars and send them over with your thank you notes. You can also partner with a local business to offer discount coupons. The business gets promoted across your donor base, and your donors get a great discount…win-win.

Remember, a simple thank you can go a long way in building lasting relationships and is an integral part of donor retention. Don’t just thank them when a donation is made, contact them when you’ve reached your goals or made a breakthrough. Your donors will definitely appreciate the thought. Use these donor recognition ideas to show them your appreciation.

Feature image source: Jeremy Cai/Unsplash

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