Request a Demo Search

Next Level Donor Relations: Make The Experience “Unexpectedly Pleasurable”

Building Bridges Between Volunteers And Donors
Topics -

See How Bloomerang Can Have a Bigger Impact on Your Mission!

Schedule a Demo

In today’s fundraising world, with dozens of nonprofits competing for donors’ hearts and wallets, it’s important to stand out from a donor relations standpoint. Otherwise, no matter how noble your mission, you’ll be left with your hand out as other fundraisers hit their goals.

To inspire donor generosity and loyalty year after year, you must stop sending stale thank-you letters and having hollow donor experiences, and start thinking of creative ways to go above and beyond to provide donor service and experiences that are unexpectedly” pleasurable and memorable.

Here are 16 uncommon and practical donor relations tactics that will delight and surprise your donors:

1. Specific personalization

When sending an appeal letter, thank-you note, or email to a donor, always include a note at the bottom and say something about the impact their gift has made and something very specific about their kids, dog, family, home, job, favorite sport, hobby, alma mater, volunteer work, or latest travel adventure. Yes, writing detailed personal notes is a big investment in time, but the impact will be substantial, because very few fundraisers take the time for this level of personalization.

2. Call before sending

Immediately after dropping an appeal letter in the mail to top-tier and second-tier donors, call them to announce that an appeal will be coming in the mail. Leave a voicemail if they don’t answer. Keep the call cordial, upbeat, and 15 seconds or less. Avoid “pitching” the ask. And when sending the appeal letter, always write “Open Me!” on the outside of the envelope with the donor’s name written below. Adding a fun sticker or two is also a nice added touch. Personalized envelopes are nearly impossible to throw away, and because of this, you just may see your response rates spike by 5x!

3. Next level thank-you calls

After any fundraising event, have board members make thank-you calls. However, there is nothing more powerful than having parents of children who has benefited from a program make calls to donors thanking them for their donations and sharing the impact your programs have had on their children. Many parents will be honored to help. Create a short, powerful, well-written script that callers can use as a guide, but allow the callers freedom to go off script and just express their gratitude. After using this tactic, you’ll be surprised how many donors will thank YOU for the call.

4. Surprise recognition

Occasionally, surprise your donors with public recognition. This could be through social media shout outs, featured donor spotlights, or even personalized acknowledgment at events. You may want to acknowledge them on a wall at your facility for a month. This unexpected recognition adds a delightful element to a donor’s experience and makes them feel valued and appreciated – and they won’t forget it.

5. Exclusive access

Offer selected donors exclusive access to behind-the-scenes content, events, construction, or updates. Providing a sneak peek into the inner workings of your organization fosters a sense of inclusion and importance. You may want to offer free (and unexpected) tickets to some of your mid-level donors so they can invite friends to your gala or salon event. This perk is usually reserved for top-tier donors, but this could be just thing that turns a mid-tier donor into a top-tier donor.

6. Event greetings

At your next gala or salon event have your board members make an effort to walk around and greet donors in ways they never expected. To spark conversation, have different questions on board members’ name tags such as “Ask me about our new kid’s program, Jumpstart.” Have board members and beneficiaries of your programs act as greeters (if appropriate) when guests arrive and thank them when they leave.

Better yet, if appropriate, seat one beneficiary at each donor table, or at least, have them walk around and introduce themselves and share a story. This may require a chaperone. Some of this needs to be practiced ahead of time, but the impact will surely be unexpected and make a lasting impact.

7. Personalized video messages

Record short, heartfelt, and fun video messages from your team members expressing gratitude to donors for the impact their gifts have made. This personalized touch adds a human element and shows donors the faces behind the cause.

8. Name a celestial star or adopt an animal

Provide donors with a unique experience by naming a celestial star after them or adopting an animal in their honor. This symbolic gesture connects their generosity with something tangible and special.

9. Customized artwork

Collaborate with local artists to create custom artwork inspired by your cause. Send donors a one-of-a-kind piece that represents the impact of their contributions.

10. Virtual Q&A session

Host a virtual Q&A session where donors can interact directly with the beneficiaries of your cause. This real-time connection allows donors to witness the direct impact of their support. This works well if you have adult beneficiaries, or your programming takes place in faraway places like a rural town, or the Galapagos.

11. Recipe book of gratitude

Compile a recipe book featuring favorite dishes from your team. Share the cookbook with donors, combining the joy of giving with the joy of sharing delicious recipes. Contributors can also be volunteers, beneficiaries, and even donors.

12. Personalized playlist

Curate a playlist of songs that symbolize gratitude and appreciation. Share the playlist with donors and let them experience the emotion through music. This works exceptionally well for organizations like symphonies, but it can work well for any organization.

13. Exclusive virtual tour

Provide donors with an exclusive virtual tour of your organization’s facilities. This behind-the-scenes glimpse offers transparency and a deeper understanding of your operations. A great videographer can make this very powerful. The use of drones can provide amazing aerial footage, giving viewers a unique perspective of your land, facilities, and programming.

14. Time capsule of impact

Create a digital time capsule showcasing the milestones and impact achieved through donor contributions. Share this unique compilation as a testament to their lasting impact. This can be done in a format combination of video, photography, and memorabilia.

15. Mystery thank-you packages

Send donors a mystery package containing a curated selection of items related to your cause. This element of surprise adds excitement and intrigue to the appreciation process. Even sending something as inexpensive as a gourmet chocolate bar can make a delicious and lasting impression – and it will!

16. Interactive donor wall

Develop an interactive online donor wall where donors can leave messages and see the collective impact of their contributions. This virtual space fosters a sense of community among supporters. A donor experience like this will take time, effort and technical know-how, but if you have a graphic artist wizard, it could be just the thing that shows that you’re willing to go above and beyond to make the donor’s experience unforgettable.

Final thoughts

Expressing gratitude and thanks to donors is an art, and a touch of creativity can make the experience truly memorable. Many organizations are satisfied sending bland and uninspiring thank-you letters.

To differentiate your nonprofit in this fierce fundraising environment, don’t settle for the simple and bland when it comes to donor relations. Stand out. Always go above and beyond. Provide concierge-level service and always be thinking of ways to provide donor experiences that are “unexpectedly pleasurable – no matter what you are doing with them. This will ensure your donors remain loyal and generous fans for years.

What donor relations tactics would you add to this list? 

Discover How to Maximize the Lifetime Value of Your Donor Database!

Get Your Free Copy

Exclusive Resources

Related Articles


Leave a reply