Donor Recognition Ideas: 10 Easy Ways To Thank Donors

January 25, 2019 - 9 minutes read

What’s the simplest way to retain donors?
Saying thank you, of course!

Thanking donors is the single most important thing that you can do to steward them. 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.

Schedule Phone Calls With Donors

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

A call center software comes in handy in this situation. You can segment your donor lists, 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 call. For example, board members can be responsible for calls to large donors and volunteers or staff members can call small donors. Do this after a major campaign or once every month.

Make “Thank-You” Videos

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 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 personal thank you videos every day on their YouTube channel.

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. 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 information field to your online donation forms to collect your donors’ Facebook or Twitter handle.

Website Appreciation

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 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.

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 personal texts will help you nurture relationships and gather feedback.

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. 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” 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.

Host A Donor Appreciation Event

Events are a great way to meet your donors face-to-face and gives you an opportunity to thank them publically. Host an annual donor appreciation event (towards the end of the year). 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 and promoting your work.

Credits: Philadelphia FIGHT

Send Anniversary Cards

A good way to thank and recognize the contributions of recurring donors is by sending them anniversary cards. Send them a personalized card 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.

Handwritten Notes

Although old-fashioned, handwritten notes are a great way to show your donors that they’re worth your time. Craft your thank-you notes as if you’re sending it to an old friend. Getting it signed by your board members adds authenticity to it. You can send these 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.

Credits: PACE University

Thank You Gifts Or Tokens

Giving your donors a physical token for their support 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 effective way to keep your donors coming back. 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.

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