Every few months, send a message that reminds them that they, and their gifts, are valued. Remember that 80 percent of donors say that when they are thanked and told how their gift helped a cause, they are happy to give again.
Surprisingly, nonprofits don’t always take the time to thank donors. A study by eCampaigning showed that 37 percent of nonprofits did not send a thank-you email; in a study done by Charity Dynamics and NTEN, 21 percent of donors said they were never thanked for their support. Remember, a gift receipt is a tax record, not an expression of gratitude. Send your thank-yous within days of a donation. Letters should be lively, engaging and personal, as far from a form letter as possible, even if they are one. Create an automated system to send them.
Follow up with a report about how their gift is being used. Be creative. Does your nonprofit send kids to camp? Send them a short video of happy campers learning to swim. Does your organization help single mothers find jobs? Send a photo of one of your clients, arriving at her new workplace. Does your nonprofit provide dental services to the poor? Provide an e-card that shows a smiling recipient of your services. You can use all sorts of media for your message like an enewsletter with links to videos, a traditional newsletter with lots of photos and information about your programs or online slide show e-cards.
Thank your major donors publicly. Recognize them on your website or in your newsletter. Send out news releases about their gift and describe the difference it has made in your organization. Make note of achievements in major donors’ personal and professional lives. Send a note when they get a new job, welcome a new child or grandchild, celebrate a birthday or anniversary.
The best communication goes both ways. Ask your major donors to give you feedback through a quick survey (make sure it is brief; these people are busy). Design a survey that gives them a chance to make other comments. They will appreciate knowing that you value their opinion, and they might just have some valuable suggestions or advice.
There’s nothing like a shared experience to cement a relationship. Invite donors to a planned event or plan an event specifically for them. How about a group tour of your operation followed by a reception or a meal? Or offer them a seat at the table during a board meeting. Does your organization have fundraisers? Make sure your major donors get a special invitation.
Thank you is a phrase that rarely grows old. A personal note from a board member, a letter of gratitude from a beneficiary of your organization or a phone call from the executive director will be remembered when donation time comes around again.
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