The Ultimate Guide to Donor Gifting for Virtual Fundraisers

The stage is set, the pitch is ready, the donors are invited, and most importantly, you’re keen to change the world positively. But is that it? Is your event prep complete? Have you planned virtual gifts for donors? If not, then here are some thoughtful and inexpensive virtual gift ideas to shower your donors with some good old Thank You’s and general appreciation.

Appreciation is a silent yet integral part of adult relationships. However, It’s even more essential to the donor-charity relationship. We all enjoy a few badges, recognition, and some pats on the back! Your donors deserve lots of appreciation for the excellent job they do.

So to make your donors feel good, let’s explore the art of virtual gifting.

What makes a great virtual gift for donors?

Simply put, virtual gifts should serve two purposes:

  • Make people feel appreciated.
  • Build foundations for long-term relationships.

Thoughtful gifts can also attract social media mentions and free publicity, yet another perk of showing your appreciation! A little attention never hurts, right?

Using donor tiers to give virtual thank-you gifts

The art of gift-giving is not simple, as you likely already know. Gifts cannot follow a one size fits all policy. It would be wise to distribute gifts in line with your organization’s donor tiers and select gifts as per the liking of the individual donors.

The donor gift you send to a VIP donor shouldn’t be the same as those for a one-time donor. Moreover, different people like different things. Some like books, some love coffee. You need to know your donor well to finalize a gift.

How to know what your donors like?

You can leverage customizable signup forms to ask questions about the likes and dislikes of the donor. Alternatively, you can use the network lounges and booths to have short-speed networking sessions and get to know donors one-on-one.

What are great virtual gifts for tier-1 donors?

P.S., It’s not what you think!

Tier-1 donors: These are the donors who contribute the most either during or following the online event. With live attendee analytics on the virtual event platforms, you can quickly identify who contributed to the fundraising campaign. You can quickly identify the top and recurring contributors to your cause based on the donation level.

One might expect that tier-1 donors would expect luxury and expensive gifts. That being said, data suggests that the donors who spend the highest aren’t impressed by the material wealth.

Many of your top donors would prefer a thoughtful gift. Stumped as to what such a gift would look like? See our recommendations below!

  • Thoughtful “named gratitude campaigns”
    • Run a gratitude campaign and attach the donor’s name with it. These campaigns can be public, on social media, or even discrete. For example, you can have Instagram story mentions and press mentions in the name of the top donors.
  • Framed photos could be a great choice for your minimalists!
    • You could send them a framed photograph of the beneficiary holding a thank you note. For example, if your sponsors donated for causes like cancer relief, housing projects for the homeless, or children’s education in Asia. Sync these donor gifts with events like Thanksgiving, and it’d feel even warmer.
  • Gift a Masterclass! (For those who like to learn)
    • Nothing shows you care for your donors more than gifting them an opportunity to learn and grow. What’s unique about it? It’s fun, light, and heartwarming, all at the same time! We’re positive that your donors would love Samuel L. Jackson teaching them acting or Daniel Pink teaching them sales and persuasion.
  • Gift them peace of mind – literally! (For the wellness enthusiast)
    • Gifting a quarterly or an annual subscription to a meditation app like Headspace or Calm is a great idea. This way, you will let donors know that you care for them and want them to take good care of themselves. If your donors are from local areas, you can also partner with yoga and meditation studios in your area to offer donors an in-studio subscription if the budget allows. Refer to the inputs provided by the donors in the event registration form to find out if they live locally or not. (P.S., you can also customize the form to ask their addresses as an optional question.)
  • Send a curated virtual swag box (For the ones who’d like a snack!)
    • These days, some services will let you curate customized gifting kits. You can choose from a wide range of options like cookies, specialty pasta, artisan coffee, or chamomile tea to include in your customized gift. Plus, these gifts can help bring more awareness to your nonprofit! Customize the delivery speeds and the kit’s contents to match your budget and donor tiers.
  • A portable book reading light (For the bibliophiles)
    • A book reading light can be the perfect gift for bibliophiles. Perks: your donor will remember your cause every time they read a book. This can spark fruitful engagement with donors and build a strong relationship. Alternatively, an e-book reader like Kindle is also a good donor appreciation gift.
  • Local handicrafts (For the art lovers)
    • Art is timeless. Handicrafts and localized artwork capture the history and stories unique to each city/country. It might be a nice idea to give the donors an artwork that depicts the culture or history of the city they hail from.

Donor gift ideas for tier-2 and tier-3 donors

Tier-2 & 3 donors: These donors donate less than an average donor in the first tier. While Tier 2 can include the donors that donate small amounts recurrently, Tier 3 donors can include one-time donors that donate small.

  • Hand-written thank you cards (Perhaps, the best donor thank you gift)
    • You thanked your donor via email, in-person, or on stage. Nothing, however, beats a personal thank you note written by you with a heartfelt message. Tip: Framing a thank you note and a photograph of the people their donations are helping will make the thank you even more special!
  • E-books and audiobooks
    • Gifting books = Giving them the whole world! Books have a whole world wrapped in them, each carrying unique, insightful stories to discover. It’s a gift that donors are likely to cherish. Nowadays, you can get e-books instead of hardcovers for a fraction of the price. Thus, making it an inexpensive yet impressive gift. While audiobooks can be a bit expensive if bought individually. You can easily gift a quarterly or monthly subscription to apps like Audible that host a library of audiobooks for a convenient monthly fee.
  • Virtual gift card
    • You can partner up with online and local stores to offer donors a virtual discount coupon. Collaborating with an event sponsor to source and send these digital gift cards will benefit both your brand and theirs. Digital gift cards have recently gained popularity. So, what are you holding out for? Get on board the bandwagon!
  • Subscriptions to wellness apps
    • The pandemic has given birth to a global mental health crisis. Evidently, people have realized the importance of a healthy lifestyle in these testing times. Tip: Compare a few apps and choose the one that maintains a nice balance between functionality and the budget. You can also vary the subscription lengths of the gifts according to your donor tiers. For example, by offering a year-long subscription to the users at tier 1, three months to the tier 2 donors, and one month for tier 3.

Bonus virtual swag ideas for all donors

  • Branded-padfolios & organizers
    • The hidden incentive: Your brand goes wherever the folio goes with them. A nice padfolio to keep all the items organized in one place makes a fantastic gift! Personalize it with the donor name, your nonprofit’s logo, and a short message thanking them for their contributions. Some donors will carry it as a badge of honor or leave it on their coffee table to spark conversation. This simple gift can potentially spread some word about your organization. It’s a great gift for nonprofits.
  • Personalized video shoutouts (Who doesn’t love gifts with some personal touch?)
    • While it may seem similar to story mentions and shoutouts on social media platforms, custom video shoutouts by celebrities stand apart as a gift in reality. If possible, take advantage of your connections and see if you can find some celebrities to provide video shoutouts to your donors to thank them for their hard work. Imagine having Gal Gadot thanking your donors in a shoutout for their contribution. A perfect donor gift, right? It’ll be a thrilling surprise for your donors!
  • Donor recognition walls
    • The donor recognition wall is a great way to recognize the donors that fuel your organization’s efforts. It’s like a hall of fame, but for the donors. Building a donor recognition wall will also gamify the concept of donating and may play into the competitive instincts of some of your key donors. It could boost recurring engagement and inspire new donors.

Wrapping up

It can be difficult to choose gifts for donors. After all, everyone’s taste is unique. Balancing donors’ personalities and the limits of your budget can be a challenge.

However, remember that:

  • Using modern virtual event platforms offers a great solution to this challenge. With modern webinar platforms, you can customize signup forms and leverage the opportunity to get the details essential for gifting.
  • Taking advantage of the many different gift possibilities (as we outlined in this article) available to you means you can really wow your donors. Some of them are almost free!
  • Dividing your donors into tiers to match the gifts allows you to be more practical and budget-friendly with your appreciation gifts.

We hope you find the right donor gifts for your virtual fundraiser and build fruitful relationships with the donors.

This post was contributed by Virgil Wadhwa at Airmeet.

Virgil is a copywriter at Airmeet, a leading all-in-one platform for virtual events, summits, meetups & workshops for communities & enterprises. Top rated on G2, Airmeet is the top choice of event hosts worldwide. Virgil likes to write for humans with empathy, logic, and a pinch of surprise.

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