Showing donor appreciation is always a key component of long-term nonprofit health. Just as with any business, nurturing existing relationships creates the potential for “return customers.” Instead of scrounging around for completely new donors, you can begin to rely on an existing donor pool which requires less work (and time, and marketing budget) to meet your donation goals.
By far, the cheapest and most effective form of donor appreciation is the Thank-You Note. Unfortunately, far too often organizations miss an opportunity with this crucial correspondence. With the Thank-You Note, there’s a chance for a deeper and more personal connection, creating the sort of invaluable “customer loyalty” that pays large dividends down the road.
If the most important element of the Thank-You Note is the personal connection, how can you personalize this document? Here are seven simple ways to help forge that connection:
- Share exactly how the donor’s money is being spent – If donors know specifically what good their money will do and is doing, they are more likely to donate in the future. In this regard, it’s generally a good idea to go light on the statistics, and go heavier on human interest. Donors want to help people, not add to figures.
- Include photographs of your organization in action – Imagine the donor’s reaction if, instead of the usual form letter, they receive several photographs of the people they have helped?
- Pair your Thank-You Note with another special Thank-You Note – In special circumstances, your note can be particularly touching if paired with, say, the handwritten thank-you note of a beneficiary, or the actual drawing of a child who has been helped.
- Actually sign the Note – Sure, it might not be feasible to have your President or VIP physically sign every note, but every note he or she can sign can contribute positively to personal donor connections. People can tell when a signature is real and when it’s digitally applied.
- Multiply the Thank You’s – For an embarrassment of riches, create Thank You Notes from both your VIP at the top rung of the ladder as well as the volunteer at the low rung. This serves to give your organization added dimension and an additional “face.”
- Provide lifetime donor totals – For long-time donors, providing a tally of all donations to date does two things. It shows you’re paying attention, and that you’re not just thanking them for their most recent donation, but for their history of giving. Lifetime totals are also often a pleasant surprise for the donor.
- Add swag – If your marketing budget allows, consider including unexpected items. Anything from buttons to stickers to refrigerator magnets to office supplies to T-shirts show your appreciation in a way that a sheet of paper sometimes can’t do. People love swag!
Hopefully these 7 tips will help you spur some of that essential donor loyalty for your non-profit. On a tangential note, while thank you notes are certainly an inexpensive and effective way to thank donors, it’s not the only way. I’m curious to know what other non-profits do to thank donor’s in new and unique ways. How does your non-profit thank donor’s in ways that are outside of the box?
Please share your answers in the comments or email me at chatsworthm [at] gmail.com.