Helping Nonprofits Communicate

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How to Thank Donors and Funders

It’s that time of year again. You’re preparing donor thank you letters, sending out tax receipts and watching your Facebook news feed fill up with festive family gatherings and thankfulness. How does your nonprofit thank those individuals and organizations that have contributed financially to your mission all year long? Here are our ideas of how to show your donors and funders that you’re thankful for the people who contributed $1 or $1 million.

Send a handwritten note acknowledging a gift that came in this year. Is the sheer number of notes that your organization would need to write an overwhelming task? Farm it out amongst several key players in your organization. Bring a stack of stationary with you to your next board meeting with a spreadsheet of donors and their contact information. As your board conducts business, have everyone write a thank you note or a few.

Put together an email newsletter that will go out to your entire donor database. Use this as a creative way to say thanks. A picture (or video) is worth 1,000 words (at least). Don’t worry about what to write. Just be simple. Tell your donors that you couldn’t have done 2014 without them, and then provide an image or anecdote that illustrates why.

For the organizations, foundations or businesses that awarded grant money to your organization in 2014, we recommend doing a couple of things. One, include them on the previously mentioned email and if you didn’t send a handwritten note thanking them for their gift when the check arrived, do that too (and vow to be more prompt in thanking your funders in 2015). Next, consider what was accomplished with the funds they gave. Did a single mother receive the financial counseling she needed to get back on her feet? Did a family receive some much-needed emotional support after some difficulty? Did a kid who needed a backpack and school supplies get them just in time for the first day of school? Whatever good was done with their money, tell the funder about it. Not just in list of facts and numbers. Tell them a story. Tell the story of that single mom, schoolkid or family who wouldn’t have been helped without the generosity of that funder. And, if there’s anyway that mom, schoolkid or family can recount their own story to be shared with this funder, all the better.

How have you thanked your donors and funders? Tell us about it.

thank you photo

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