You know what is an unsung holiday for loving on donors? Valentine’s Day.
You know who is not expecting to hear from you on Valentine’s Day? Your donors!
Why not surprise them with some donor love? I’ve outlined 21 ways to show you care including a spotlight on a couple of digital tools that can help make it easy and convenient to wow with a personal touch. But first I want you to know how much of an impact these seemingly small gestures can make:
- first-time donors who get a personal thank you within 48 hours are 4x more likely to give a second gift. (McConkey-Johnston International UK)
- a thank-you call from a board member to a newly acquired donor within 24 hours of receiving the gifts will increase their next gift by 39%. (Penelope Burk)
- in a database where the average number of gifts made by donors is three, a thank-you letter reaffirming the difference that their donations made increased average gifts by 60% without reducing response rate in comparison to a control group of donors who did not receive this thank-you communication. (Jen Shang)
Why does this matter so much?
I love this explanation from Brock Warner, Manager of Development at War Child:
“One thing humans never tire of is being the recipient of honest, heartfelt gratitude. Like a timeless piece of music, gratitude has an incredibly long half-life. The opportunity to surprise and delight donors simply by saying thank you is present more often than you might think.”
Here are 21 easy ways to shower your donors with unexpected love on Valentine’s Day or any day:
Send them a personal thank you email: “This Valentine’s Day we wanted to take a moment to reach out to someone special. You. Thanks to you…”
Send your donor a video email of you, your clients, your staff and/or your beneficiaries thanking them. This does NOT have to be complicated (or cost money)! Case in point.
- Send them a letter that is written by someone whose life they’ve changed.
- Plan a donor and volunteer appreciation party.
- Call them to ask their opinion.
- Host a thank-a-thon where staff & board members call to simply thank donors. Serve sweet treats and celebrate with a champagne toast. (If you can’t recruit them do it solo!)
- If you have their mobile number or twitter handle text or DM them a meaningful thanks.
- Give them shout-outs on social media. It can be directed at all donors, i.e. “How do we love #donors? Let us count the ways!” or spotlight specific donors by publicly thanking them. If permitted, share their picture with a story of what they mean to your organization or give them the chance to share why your organization is important to them. A personal giving story is a powerful way to capture an audience of potential donors, while building a lasting relationship with current donors. *Disclaimer: Make sure donors are comfortable with being addressed publicly. Get their permission before using their name or picture in any form of communication.
- Craft a donor stewardship plan if you don’t already have one. Download this sample template as a starting point. Hint: to maximize retention of first-time donors structure your stewardship around longevity of the donors (new donor etc) versus gift amount.
- Invite them to hear a guest speaker, online or in-person.
- Allow virtual access to whatever form of annual meeting you have, be it a conference, lobby day, or jamboree.
- Call out first-time donors as such in your thank you letter, i.e. “Dear John, I’m overjoyed to receive such a generous first-time gift from you and I’m thrilled to welcome into our donor family.”
- Start celebrating your donor’s “Donor-versary,” the anniversary of when they made their first gift to you with a letter honoring the longevity of their giving, i.e. “Dear John, 5 years ago you made your first gift to us. Since then you…[insert amazing accomplishment the donor made happen]”
- Add a recurring weekly Stewardship Power Hour to your calendar where you call to thank and update donors.
- Host a donor cultivation event. For a fresh spin on an intimate event to dramatically deepen relationships with donors explore a Jeffersonian dinner.
- Make it easy for your donors them to tell others about their support by enabling social sharing icons on your donation thank you pages.
- Ask them to share their love of your mission in an engagement campaign inviting them to tell you why they support you via a social media campaign or survey. Want to see a great example of this in action? Check out Girlstart’s #WhyILoveSTEM campaign.
- Download a time-saving digital tool like the Felt app, to help you craft meaningful handwritten cards using your iPhone or iPad. This handy tool plugs into your photo library on your mobile device so you can send a donor a personal handwritten thank you card with a photo you took of them without ever licking a stamp! You can even upgrade to have stationary branded with your logo.
- Add an optional comment box on your thank you landing page to ask what inspired their gift or why they give and then personalize your thanks to what has meaning to them.
- Record video emails to your donors using digital tools like Bomb Bomb that make it easy and simple to send highly personalized and completely irresistible video communications to your audience from your desktop or mobile phone. See an example of my friend Shannon Coker, from Care and Share Food Bank in Colorado Springs, CO, thank her donors here.
- Depending on their identity and your closeness to them, make a plan to reach out to them on their birthday, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and/or Grandparent’s Day.
There’s no bad day of the year to show appreciation to your donors, so why not start today?
How many of my suggestions have you done in the past? How did it go for you? Let me know in the comments below!