Thanking donors is more than just stuffing a form letter into an envelope and sending it off. It is a critical and necessary part of building the “Friendraising” relationship between your agency and the donor. Getting the first donation is the initial step in working with your donors, but thanking people well and regularly is essential for retaining your donors, and making them a part of your organization’s family.
In fact, donors should be thanked at least seven times a year, and not just when they have given you a gift. Keeping donors in the loop, and regularly updating them on the progress of your agency, is vital to bringing donors closer to your organization and sustaining their loyalty. There are a number of very simply ways that even small organizations can thank their donors consistently and effectively.
- Add a welcome brochure or postcard to the thank you letter of a first time donor;
- Place a short handwritten note at the bottom of a thank you letter of a regular donor, even if they only give a small gift;
- Place profiles of your long-term donors in your agency newsletter, website or social media pages;
- Have your board members write handwritten thank you notes to special donors at least once a year at your board meetings;
- Develop a stewardship protocol with recognition levels for various sized gifts;
- Try collecting you donors’ birthdays and have a volunteer call them to wish them a Happy Birthday; or
- Conduct small cultivation events for your donors to say thank you and provide them updates on how their donations are being used.
Remember transparency on the use of donations is another way of saying thank you and reassuring donors that their gifts are being used well. Saying thank you on a regular basis and finding innovative ways to keep them connected to your organization is the best way to retain their support, and keep them as longtime, loyal friends of your agency.