The GuideStar Blog retired September 9, 2019. We invite you to visit its replacement, the Candid Blog. You’re also welcome to browse or search the GuideStar Blog archives. Onward!

GuideStar Blog

Four Fun Ways to Show Donors Your Heartfelt Thanks

As many managers of non-profit organizations know all too well, getting someone to donate for the first time can be difficult. But getting them to give a second or third time is even tougher. Researchers who looked at a group of 1.8 million donors found that only around 43 percent of them gave money to the same group two years in a row, Urban notes. In many cases, these generous souls are probably still donating money — it might just be to a different cause. NPEngage also notes that getting repeat donors can be tricky; the typical non-profit organization in the United States will not see about 70 percent of people again after their first donation. In addition, only about 10 to 15 percent of people will make five annual donations in a row.

SocialMonstersIn order to increase the chances that generous donors will return to your organization time and time again with their funding, non-profits should consider adopting a heartfelt and effective way of thanking people for their hard-earned money. The following suggestions will not only help you to show your appreciation and gratitude, they may also help to increase the chances of a repeat donation:

Write a letter on actual paper

One way to show your thanks to donors is to write a note of appreciation on a nice thank you card and mail it to them, Sumac notes. A handwritten note that includes the person's name and how much he or she gave will show the donor you genuinely appreciate the financial gesture. If you are swamped with your work responsibilities, a volunteer or an intern can write the notes for you. Unlike generic thank you form letters that will probably end up going into the recycle bin, a handwritten note on a card might get displayed on the mantel or refrigerator for awhile, and may just encourage the person to give again.

Give them a call

Another great way to express thanks to your donors is with a short and sweet phone call. As Richard Male notes, this approach can be especially effective with brand new donors. Set aside a chunk of time, pick up the phone, and call each and every new donor, regardless of how much they gave. In order to prevent people from thinking you are asking for more money and possibly ending the call before you can offer your thanks, you might want to get to the “thank you” portion of your talk as quickly as possible.

A picture is worth a thousand words

If you manage an animal rescue group, for example, consider asking a friend who is talented with a camera to take some great shots of the happy and playful pooches, and send them out as postcards to donors. Receiving a photo that clearly illustrates how his or her money was spent is a great way to thank a donor and also encourage him or her to give again. If your budget is pretty tight, you can also email the photos to people, or post them on your website. Try to make the photo and accompanying thank you as personalized as possible; for example, you could write “This is Lucky, a golden lab mix. When he arrived at our shelter, his fur was matted and he was in need of neutering. Thanks to your generous donation of $50, Lucky was neutered at a low cost clinic and enjoyed a spa day as well at a local groomer. On behalf of Lucky, thank you for your kindness!”

Give them a gift

A great way to show your appreciation to your donors is through gifts. But unlike the generic tote bag that they might never use, try to send items that are a bit more creative and personal. If your non-profit just received an especially generous contribution, you might consider sending the donor a thank you bouquet; companies like FTD feature a wide variety of arrangements in all sizes and price ranges. For example, you could send the donor a small vase of gorgeous red roses with a note that said “You really rose to the occasion with your generous donation.”

The preceding is a guest post by Social Monsters.

Topics: Fundraising