I still am genuinely surprised when I see nonprofits show not an ounce of grace when it comes to thanking their donors.  When I question why they aren’t thanking their donors on a regular basis their responses indicate that they’re too busy, they’re too short-staffed, they don’t have the money or the gift wasn’t worth a thank you.  Ouch!

Thanking donors like this doesn’t have to be time consuming or expensive.  Here are 6 ways to thank your donors inexpensively, creatively and even for free:

  1. Powerful phone calls – Depending on the level of gift, think about having your Executive Director, a staff member or volunteer make a personal phone call to thank the donor for their gift.  It doesn’t have to take a long time but it does need to occur within 48 hours of the contribution.
  2. Personal thank you notes – Please don’t just send a tax receipt!  A letter on your organization’s letterhead is fine but, personally, I still go for the hand-written note.  For Pete’s sake, you can get a box of 10 note cards at the dollar store!  If time is an issue, have volunteers write the notes.
  3. Your newsletter – publicly acknowledge your gifts in your newsletters whether you mail them or send them electronically.  A step further is to “feature” donors by including their photo.
  4. Using photos – remember that a picture is always worth a thousand words.  Use a photo that shows your project in action and include in your correspondence and your newsletters.
  5. Creative use of video – Youtube makes it super easy to record personal messages to your top donors.  Simply record your message and email the link to the donor for them to open their very own thank you.  You can also publicly acknowledge individuals the same way by posting the videos to your Facebook page. The most creative use of video I’ve seen?  The Nature Conservancy’s scientists giving thanks to their donors.  Youmust see this!
  6. Extend invitations to participate with your organization – Another way to thank generous donors AND keep them engaged?  Ask them to join a committee or, if appropriate, your Board of Directors.

Thanking donors shouldn’t occur just once a year.  Veteran fundraiser Jerry Panas notes that donors should be thanked at least seven times for their gift.  More ideas to let them know they’re appreciated include calling on them occasionally to ask their opinions or advice, offering to give them a tour of your facilities and even writing award nominations for them to recognize their service to your community.

Have any other ideas not listed here to make your donors feel valued? Share them with us below!

And, to show my appreciation to you for stopping by, I invite you to please take advantage of my free 4-part grant writing ecourse.  Sign up today and receive your first lesson immediately!


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