(photo credit: TheMiddleShelf.com)
As we’re all headed off for the annual collective pig-out, I thought I’d send you off for the long weekend with 5 quick ways to really make your donors feel appreciated.
1.) Make it Personal
No ‘Dear Donor’ or ‘Dear Giver’ or ‘Dear Friend’- use their name, the specific amount and time of their gift. In my opinion, as long as you have an automatic receipt going out that acknowledges the donors initial gift and gives them a quick ‘Thanks for your donation’ immediately after their payment is made, it’s a better idea to wait until you have time to write up a personalized thank-you email than to send out a form letter accompanying the receipt. Organizational staff is fraught at the height of fundraising season and as a donor, I’m well aware of that. I’d rather wait a few weeks or a month to get a handcrafted acknowledgement letter than get something half-assed right off the bat. My point is, if you have to choose, I’d favor personalization over immediacy. Donors know you’re in the thick of fundraising season, so my recommendation is to send one form email or receipt immediately when the donor gives, then a follow-up after the new year. If you don’t have time to do it right immediately, do it right as soon as you can.
2.) Make It Exciting
Another way of saying exciting, to donors, is ‘specific’. Tell your donor what their gift did and be specific, and fun. Heifer International is an incredible successful organization, with great longevity and a powerful ongoing fundraising plan that’s been effective year after year; much of this, I believe, is because of the specificity of their concept: pick an animal, let it change a families life.
Specificity does not equal an exhaustive level of detail; don’t be boring, for the love of god! It’s just much easier, as a donor, for me to visualize one family raising a goat or flock of chicks than to visualize what my $50 did to ‘help stop the world hunger crisis’. The wording in your personalized thank you letter is important: you want the donor to know they had an appreciable and tangible impact on your cause, but you also want them to feel like they’re part of an ongoing movement.
3.) Everyone Loves Free $hit
Everyone. No exceptions. Seriously. It’s crazy and senseless but I get super excited about branded pencil erasers, t-shirts, bumper stickers and the like. And I love those NPR totebags. Not that your organization’s great work isn’t enough to encourage donors to contribute. . . . but, a travel coffee mug branded with your organizations logo certainly doesn’t hurt.
4.) Add Media, and stir!
Charity Water has been much-ballyhooed for their personalized thank-you videos. And rightly so. It’s a really cool idea to add media components to your acknowledgements and appeals in particular to younger donors. If you can find a way to embed a video or give donors access to an MP3 or something similar, do it! It’s a way to dress up traditional acknowledgement and make your donors feel extra special enough to contribute in the future as well.
5.) Build The Relationship
It’s also important to let donors know what they can do to help moving forward; the assistance a long-term supporter of your organization can provide is not limited to financial contribution. If your organization utilizes volunteers, letter-writing campaigns, personal fundraising for events or similar, let your donor know that they can be a part of your organization in a variety of ways. Basically, you want the acknowledgement to bring your donors further into the fold, not give them a brusque thank-you and send them on their way. Building a sense of community and responsibility with donors will go a long way toward building a sustaining donor and volunteer base that will generously serve and contribute to your organization for years to come.