As fundraisers, you all know how important it is to thank your donors, but do you do so in a personal way? This involves more than just auto-inserting their name at the top of a standard email. A real thank you should be personal because, let’s be honest, we can all spot an auto-insertion a mile away! Here are a few extra ways to thank your favourite donors, who probably deserve a bit more and, hey, it proves you’re not a bot.
1 Social shout-outs
A simple Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter tagged shout-out and thank you can be a great way to show your gratitude to donors, both large and small. It lets them know you have received their gift and that it will make a difference while also telling your social community someone else values the work of your organisation. This quick, feel-good gesture is personal and should make donors feel valued.
2 Like, love, retweet and repost your donors’ content
Further to shout-outs, make a list of your major donors, corporate sponsors and major supporters, and follow them on all social platforms. This way you will know what they are up to. You can even set up Google Alerts to discover when they are mentioned in the news. Like their social content, make comments to show you are interested in their work and if they are in the news let them know you heard about it. This sounds like stalking, I know, but is all for a good cause.
By paying attention to your donors and acknowledging their achievements you will build better relationships. You’ll also learn more about them, as a group or individually, which will inform you about the best content and your ongoing fundraising strategy.
3 Create a personal thank you video using Vine and Instagram
Vine and Instagram make it easy to create videos and share them. You, your staff and volunteers can make a short thank you video for donors and, as their donations come in, tag the donors and post it.
You could also easily keep it low key by sending an email, direct message or thank you video by text. Once you’re on a roll creating videos, it won’t take long. Just make sure you set some parameters for which donations warrant a personal video, and the gratitude will be noticed!
4 How about access to the C-suite or an expert in the field?
Offer your major donors exclusive access to your CEO or an aid worker in the field through a live Google Hangout. Google Hangout is an exclusive space, like a meeting between your staff and your supporters. It offers a very personal way to say thank you.
Or try a Facebook webcast. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation uses Facebook live chat to give supporters access to Bill Gates while promoting its work. UK chef Jamie Oliver also uses live chat to demonstrate his work and to answer questions from his audience about his crusades. Early analytics suggest this has significantly higher results than posting alone so it’s good for business and for keen supporters.
5 Personal video calls
Another digital way to say thank you is via a one-on-one video call from a staff member or volunteer to the donor; you could even offer a virtual tour of the office or a significant site. The results of doing this can be rewarding!
6 Invite fans to visit you
A step beyond a virtual tour is a physical one. Donors who are deeply engaged in your mission would relish the opportunity to see the work being done behind the scenes of your cause. By giving your donors a hands-on experience such as volunteer opportunities or tours of your facility, you are cementing these relationships. Keep your donors excited about your work by letting them touch and see what they are funding.
7 Above all, demonstrate impact
Offering supporters personal experiences with staff provides an opportunity to talk about or to demonstrate impact.
Reinforcing the impact of your work and ultimately where each donation goes is a critical way to validate their support. Thank them for caring enough to help make the world a better place by sharing regular, meaningful updates on your work, proving the change it is creating. This can also be done through video storytelling on social media or by direct email, effectively conveying the good news and the potential impact donations have on your mission.
Donors are a critical component to your ability to address your mission, and making them feel included and a vital part of the fundraising team will go a long way to ensuring their ongoing support.
When it comes time to say thank you, avoid a one-size-fits-all approach. Not all donors will want a public thank you. A friend sponsored me in a peer-to-peer event and asked to be kept anonymous as she had lots of friends asking for sponsorship that year, and couldn’t give to everyone. So to keep it nice we kept it private.
As I have listed here, there are so many public and private ways to express thanks to the people who keep your work ticking along and each one is undoubtedly personal. In the never-ending struggle for donor retention, it’s always valuable to have fresh tactics to call on to be a better fundraiser.
Dr Steve Francis
Steve is Managing Director Asia Pacific at the online fundraising provider FrontStream. He has a PhD in Anthropology, 20 years’ experience working in not-for-profit and for-profit sectors, and a passion for growing businesses that do social good.