With the year-end giving season wrapping up and heading into a new year, now is the time for nonprofits to start planning their strategy for building donor relationships. The final months of the year often attract new donors to your cause, and the right donor recognition strategy can turn one-time gifts into long-lasting giving relationships.
Between the costs of creating new marketing materials and running outreach campaigns, attracting new donors is expensive when compared to retaining your existing donor base. While every donor has their own reasons for continuing to support your cause, many of them can be persuaded to stick around with a consistent donor recognition program.
Prompt and meaningful donor recognition can increase donor retention for your new year-end donors and help lay the foundation for a stronger connection in the future. We’ve picked our top five ways that your nonprofit can express your appreciation. Here are our favorite ways to say thanks:
Your nonprofit can use one or all of these strategies to create a comprehensive donor appreciation experience, helping you stand out from the crowd during the year-end season. Let’s get started!
Sometimes your nonprofit will need to show donors your appreciation in a more permanent way. For instance, major donors, capital campaign contributors, and planned donors provide the funding that allows your nonprofit to continue running and complete major projects for your mission. For these donors, consider saying thank you by building a donor wall.
Donor walls are lasting, physical displays of your nonprofit’s appreciation and dedication to your donors. Just as donors invest in your nonprofit, donor walls allow you to invest in them. Because donor walls are a bigger commitment, Eleven Fifty Seven’s guide to donor recognition walls recommends following these tips to make the most of your wall:
Donor walls take time to build, which means they will be part of your long-term recognition strategy. However, your new donors will notice your donor walls and other grand gestures of appreciation, which can set the right tone for your new donor relationships in 2022.
With the rise of digital marketing, traditional mail and thank you letters have become more personable, and most of your donors will see a handwritten card as far more meaningful than an automatic thank you email. Before sending out your thank you letters, consider how you can make each a little more memorable by:
Additionally, make sure your letter reflects your nonprofit’s brand. This includes adding your logo to your letter and card, but you can also put your own creative twist on it by reaffirming your donor’s impact by mentioning your mission or using visuals that represent your work, such as photographs of your volunteers or constituents.
According to Double the Donation’s nonprofit fundraising statistics report, social media inspired Millennials and Gen-X donors to give more than other marketing channels. For your donor recognition strategy, this means you can effectively honor your donors through your social media channels while also encouraging their friends and family to consider giving too.
Social media shoutouts generally consist of a photograph of your donor and brief statement about their gift and connection to your nonprofit. Let your donors know when your post is live, so they can share it with their followers, spreading word about their good deed and your cause at the same time.
You can also use social media shoutouts as a jumping off point to continue engaging with your supporters. Comment on, like, and reshare posts your supporters make about your nonprofit to help generate engagement and cultivate your relationship. Plus, some social media websites, such as Facebook, allow your supporters to run fundraisers for your nonprofit, and the right conversations on social media may lead to one hosted on your behalf.
Making personal connections with donors helps strengthen relationships, which can lead to recurring support and higher retention rates. One of the most impactful ways to build these relationships is to have several face-to-face interactions with your supporters. However, you may not be able to do so with every donor. Fortunately with donor appreciation videos, you can still put a face on your nonprofit, even if you’re not able to meet them in person.
These videos should be tailored to each donor, referencing by name and thanking them for their gift. Plus, appreciation videos can be used to further tell your nonprofit’s story. This might include sharing anecdotes about their donation’s impact and featuring images or footage of your constituents. For example, an animal shelter might choose to name and include pictures of the dogs that a supporter’s donations helped find homes for.
By creating unique, impactful appreciation videos, your donors will be more inclined to share them with their friends, family, and followers across social media. Just like social media shoutouts, this will make your donors feel proud of their support and also get more eyes on your nonprofit.
Celebration events—whether in-person, virtual, or hybrid—allow you to honor all of the amazing contributions your donors have made to your organization. Plus, your donors will be able to meet and socialize with each other, building a community around your nonprofit that will encourage long-term support and future event attendance.
When planning your donor celebration events, remember to:
Your celebrations require planning in advance and an investment of time and resources. However, a successful event will more than make up the investment cost by allowing your nonprofit to build valuable connections with supporters. Plus, an event might just be the perfect way to celebrate the beginning of a new year and chapter in your nonprofit’s mission.
As we prepare for 2022, focus not just on how you can gain new donors, but also on how you can retain your current base through meaningful, sincere shows of gratitude. You can thank your donors and build relationships with them through both small and grand gestures of appreciation, from thoughtful cards to donor walls they can visit for years to come.
This post was contributed by Derrick Spitler, a Business Strategist at Eleven Fifty Seven working to help nonprofits recognize their donors. He began his career at Eleven Fifty Seven as an intern during the Summer of 2019. Since then, Derrick has graduated from The Ohio State University and has joined the team full time working in marketing and business development. He has grown to love the nonprofit world by seeing the impact made possible through philanthropy.