How many ways can you say "thank you" to a donor?

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Greg Warner is CEO and Founder of MarketSmart, a revolutionary marketing software and services firm that helps nonprofits raise more for less. In 2012 Greg coined the phrase “Engagement Fundraising” to encapsulate his breakthrough fundraising formula for achieving extraordinary results. Using their own innovative strategies and technologies, MarketSmart helps fundraisers around the world zero in on the donors most ready to support their organizations and institutions with major and legacy gifts.

According to an article in the Journal of Economic Psychology, saying thank you can actually have a negative effect on your relationship with a supporter.
The researcher notes that gifts, in particular, “reduce feelings of altruism” causing your expression of gratitude to backfire in your face. Instead, he suggests you make sure to reframe the gift so your supporter feels that their acceptance of it ensures that they are remaining consistent with their values and altruistic motivations.
For instance, a gift of a mug with your logo might be rejected at first. But if you frame it with emphasis on how it can help the donor express their support or how it could aid your organization’s awareness-building efforts, then they’d feel much better about accepting it.
 
Can you help add to this list?  
 
Letters
The standard acknowledgement letter (of course)
A letter from you.
Another letter from the Executive Director.
Yet another from a Board Member.
And, how about a letter from a person who benefited from the gift?
 
Telephone calls
A call and a voicemail message from you.
A call and voicemail message from the Executive Director.
Yet another call and voicemail message from a Board Member.
And, how about a call and voicemail message from a person who benefitted from the gift?
 
Meet-ups
For instance, ask them to come by for a visit or tour.
Invite them to an event.
Ask them to take a trip with you to see the impact of their gift.
And, of course, ask if you could visit with them at a place that is comfortable for them (i.e.- their home, their office, a restaurant, a coffee shop, etc.)
 
Proof
Send a photos or emails from the field
 
Invitations (although they might not accept them, everyone likes to be invited)
Ask them if they’d like to join an elite group (or giving level)
Invite them to participate in an exclusive dinner, lunch or event that proves impact or provides other benefits (such as a sense of community)
 
Lists
Propose mentioning them at an event
See if they’d like to be on a list in the annual report
Perhaps they’d like you to include them on a donor wall or some other prominent mention
 
Certificates or awards
Send a nice recognition certificate along with your letter signed by your leader(s)
 
Coffee table photo books
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Social media channels:
Facebook (message)
LinkedIn (direct InMail)
Twitter (direct message)
 

Donor Offers
 

Related Posts

>> Words That Work: The Phrases That Encourage Planned Giving
>> The Best Thank You I Never Got
 

8 responses to “How many ways can you say "thank you" to a donor?”

  1. Scott Quinn says:

    Nice list! How about a video thank you? If what they gave bought an object that was important, have the video thank you next to it. For example, if a gift enabled your organization to purchase a van to take food to the homeless, thank them while sitting in the van or even show the van in action.

  2. Diane Newark says:

    A token gift that relates to your mission — artwork made my kids served by the charity, birdhouse for an Audubon society, brailled notecards for a blindness agency.
    Ask if you can do a feature story/interview in an upcoming newsletter (even if they say no, everyone likes to be asked!)
    An opportunity to meet with the kids/animals/patients/clients who are served by the agency — some donors prefer this over schmoozing with the bigwigs (though some donors like that, too.)
    A copy of a book that is relevant to your agency/mission with a personal note from the Board Chair or CEO.

  3. Carol Drewes says:

    Our theater includes additional content in the program for each play we produce. We recently linked a donor profile to an article about their favorite education program, and let the donors write a statement of why giving to the program is meaningful. It’s recognition that directly links with the impact of a gift, and enables donors to model their philanthropy to others. For those who are not camera shy, we include a photo, but pulled-out quotes can also work well.
    As to negative response to thanks: I have one donor who has flat out told me not to send any more thank you notes, and who attends every event we offer as a matter of routine. She would rather I spend the time and postage on someone else. Instead, I try to share (via email) quick snippets of messages from audience members and students who are positively impacted by our productions and programs–and she LOVES getting those. I put “look what YOU did!” or words to that effect in the subject line of the email–and I keep them SHORT so she doesn’t stress about the time spent. Needless to say, having to do this for her has spurred me to share with others who need thanking but are uncomfortable with more formal means of recognition.

  4. Our Foundation supports wounded & injured Veterans. Our music program’s signature band makes it a point to have the veterans on stage & whenever possible, perform with the band. The impact on the audience is always heart warming.

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