Imagine it’s the day after Giving Tuesday. After months of planning, your non-profit’s campaign was a success, and you’re basking in the victory. Congrats! Now what? An end-of-year fundraising campaign? A holiday giving campaign? A gala? Before you jump to your next campaign, let’s talk about ways to keep the momentum going from the last one.
Even before 2020’s 4% drop in donor retention, rates hovered around 45%. That means more than half the people you’re working hard to reach with your Giving Tuesday fundraising campaign are going to ghost you. That doesn’t have to happen. You can turn things around to increase your non-profit’s donor retention rates, starting with one of the most important parts of your Giving Tuesday strategy: the donor thank you.
By now, you know that donor appreciation is essential to donor retention. You probably also know what makes a donor thank you effective, such as being timely and specific in acknowledging the impact of your donors’ gifts. Beyond the donor thank-you call or letter, have you considered other creative ways to thank donors?
Whether it’s your standard donor thank-you message tailor-packaged creatively or a strategic donor gift idea that links back to your non-profit, your thank you can be a tool for message affirmation, value-sharing, and amplification.
This article offers three impactful donor thank-you ideas to strengthen the connections you make on Giving Tuesday by combining gratitude, storytelling, and creativity.
Three Creative Ways to Thank Donors
1. Donor Appreciation Social Media Shout-out
Making space in your social media feed to highlight supporters is one of our favorite forms of donor appreciation. Why? Because a public donor thank you message is noticeable. Not only will it increase your donor retention, it’s also an effective way to spread your message to your donors’ friends and followers.
Pinpoint donors who have a strong connection with your non-profit. Maybe it’s a board member, a volunteer, or a new supporter chosen at random. Perhaps it’s a combination of all of these people featured in a dedicated donor appreciation post. Whoever it may be, chances are, they supported you for a reason and might be willing to share that reason with others. Highlight their story of support as a way to share your appreciation while also showcasing your non-profit’s work.
This donor spotlight created by the Korean American Community Foundation of San Francisco incorporates a powerful quote from a supporter who explains why the organization’s mission aligns with her values. And guess what? It’s highly shareable! Wouldn’t you engage with a post honoring you?
Beyond Giving Tuesday, you can turn this idea into an ongoing donor appreciation campaign. Reach out to people who engaged with your fundraising campaign, tell them the impact of their gift, and ask them to share why they chose to support your non-profit. This creative donor thank-you tactic will show your appreciation while extending and expanding the conversation about your organization’s mission and work.
2. Donor Thank-You Video
Short-form videos are more popular than ever. Take advantage of the trend by creating a donor appreciation video. The value of this type of donor thank-you message is that it’s unique and, therefore, memorable. It’s also something you can easily put together and send in an email along with a personal note thanking donors for supporting your fundraising campaign. A dedicated thank-you video will stand out and give donors special recognition that makes them feel seen.
It doesn’t have to be elaborate or overly produced. Create a video using your phone and an easy-to-use editing tool. United Against Human Trafficking does an excellent job using video to deliver donor thank-you messages by filming themselves writing colorful notes and having different team members present them to the camera. Highlighting staff helps to personalize, and the homemade cards and shot-on-my-iPhone style underscores the organization’s core values, thereby helping to drive donor retention.
Because the goal is to use your donor thank-you message as a way to keep the momentum of your fundraising campaign going, make sure that your video is easily shareable to help your supporters spread the word further.
Pro tip: If you aren’t sure about creating videos yourself, there are companies that produce short videos for this exact purpose. ThankView, Bonjoro, and Biteable are a few examples.
3. Mission-Oriented Donor Gift Ideas
Donor gifts sometimes get a bad rep. Tchotchkes contribute to waste, and no one needs another branded coffee mug. But there are creative donor gift ideas that can reaffirm your organization’s work and mission.
The I Have a Dream Foundation is a non-profit that supports youth from under-resourced communities focusing on facilitating young people’s academic journeys. Their donor thank-you gift idea was to send branded holiday cards featuring artwork made by children impacted by the non-profit’s work. As part of the I Have a Dream Foundation’s donor appreciation initiative, every supporter who donated $100 or more to the organization’s giving campaign received a unique set of ten branded cards that they could then mail to friends and family. The cards were a smart and creative way to thank donors for their support while connecting that support to the non-profit’s direct point of impact: students. In addition, the donor gift amplified the non-profit’s fundraising campaign by using the donor thank-you message and gift idea as a tool to reach more people.
Take time to think about an item that’s unique to the work your organization does. Is there a donor gift idea that connects to your mission? Maybe it’s a picture frame with an image of a client or an editorial landscape shot of your operations team in action. Is it a handmade item produced by a community you serve or a decorative object that serves as a symbol of your non-profit’s work? There are lots of creative ways to thank donors. With a little creativity, you’ll be able to come up with ideas that make supporters feel appreciated and reaffirm your message by providing subtle daily reminders of your non-profit’s work and impact. After all, isn’t one aim of donor appreciation to increase donor retention?
Pro tip: No matter what donor gift item you choose, include a handwritten note with it. Doing so will make your gift that much more personal and impactful.
Make Your Donor Thank Yous do More for You
There are lots of ways to express gratitude. Hopefully, you’ve covered all the bases: be timely, be personal, and connect donations to impact. Doing just these basic things is key to donor retention. But don’t end the conversation with thank you. Start it that way. Experiment with creative ways of thanking donors to reaffirm their giving decisions and expand the connections that your giving campaigns started in the first place. Ultimately, no matter what method of thanks you choose, if it’s sincere, your donors will recognize your appreciation and remember it long after Giving Tuesday.
This article was written by Neda Azarfar and Gina Graves.
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