Celebrate Your Donors!

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You have been working very hard making sure that every donor has been asked to make a year-end gift. Now it is time to pour some hot cider, put on that crazy Christmas sweater, and show your donors your gratitude and appreciation.

Set aside time in December to surprise your donors with random acts of kindness.

The easiest is a simple thank you call. Whether you get them on the phone or you end up leaving a message, tell them how much you value their partnership with your organization and thank them for their support (you don’t have to be too detailed). If you are able to talk with your donor, offer a quick update on the work and ask them if they have any questions or need anything from you. Such calls take just a few minutes but leave a lasting positive impression.

Another easy way to share appreciation is to send a personal note expressing your appreciation. You might include a snapshot (or three) showing people engaged in your programs, or even a photo copied note from a client stating what the organization means to them. mollyletterHandwritten notes have the biggest impact. If you want to send a Christmas card, it should be customized to your organization and hand signed. Make sure to still include a note of appreciation. Envelopes should also be hand addressed.

For your bigger donors, you might want to send a thank you gift on behalf of your organization. When done well, this gives the donor something to remember you by. However, you need to be careful not to offend or leave the wrong impression. Here are a few rules:

  1. Make it from the organization but be sure to insert a personal signed note from a person they know.
  2. The gift should not be expensive since that can look like you are wasting charity dollars.
  3. The gift should also not be cheap or too common since that will look like you don’t really value the donor.
  4. Don’t give artwork, jewelry, or clothing since those are subject to personal taste.
  5. The best gifts relate in some way to your mission, projects, or the organization itself.
  6. Books are very safe gifts. Pens can work with they have your name and logo and look classy. Stay away from mugs and CD’s or DVD’s. Food can be okay only if it is truly special.
  7. Ask yourself if the gift is something you would value or keep.
  8. Send the gift directly from you. Don’t have it sent by a third party vendor.
  9. How the gift is wrapped (presented) makes an impression.

A common complaint by donors is that charities only contact them when they want more money. Such a feeling breeds resentment and skepticism. No one likes to feel used.

Try to find 3-4 ways to connect with your best donors between solicitations. It may be to express gratitude. But, it could be a report, a copy of a related news article, a picture and client testimony, an invitation to a meeting or celebration, or a personal meeting.  All of these actions communicate that you care about the donor for more than just the money that she/he might choose to give.

Christmas is a great time to start your DONOR GRATITUDE PROGRAM. As we ourselves are reminded of our blessings, it is easier to reach out to others and share our gratitude for them. Let your faithful supporters know now that they are essential to your work and your organization’s mission. Remind them that you cannot do your good work without their involvement. Do it now, and then keep doing it in the months ahead. Donors that know they are valued and appreciated will stick with you longer and give you more than you can imagine.

Michael Friedline
Sparrow Solutions Consultant
NonProfit Advance

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