As we celebrate National Philanthropy Day and Thanksgiving, the month of November highlights the importance for us to say thanks.  Expressing heartfelt gratitude to those supporting the work of your charity is cornerstone to the fundraising cycle – ok, that’s a square shape in a circular metaphor, but you know what I mean. Scientific studies have proven that expressing gratitude has numerous benefits – it can improve our relationships, physical health and overall well-being.  It can even help us sleep better at night. It is intuitive that, if your charity wants to maintain or enhance giving from supporters, it needs a system to help facilitate expressions of gratitude or saying thanks.

Thank All & Thank Often

It makes good business sense to invest in recognition and a thoughtful recognition plan needs to include ways to recognize giving at all levels– whether it is gifts of time, talent or treasure. A good plan aligns thanking activities with the giving commitment and honors donor preferences. There is no such thing as “thanking fatigue” – thus you DON’T have to worry about over thanking a donor. You DO need to worry about thanking all your supporters, and at an appropriate level. So, you don’t really know how your donor likes to be thanked?  Ask them, listen to their response, memorialize it, and honor what is said.

Six Easy Ways to Say Thanks

Need a few ideas for recognition? Here are six simple ones to help you on your path to greater expressions of gratitude.

  1. A hand-written thank you note, letter or postcard written by those impacted by your charity’s services: a thoughtful message of thanks will stand out and pack a punch in the day of digital communication
  2. A phone call or personal visit from a Board Member or key leader. Who doesn’t enjoy being acknowledged by the top brass of an organization? Just be sure that the visit has no other agenda. Say thanks and offer no hint of asking.
  3. A listing on a page on your website dedicated to recognizing donors: someone in your nonprofit will have enough digital savvy to update according to your recognition plan. Your donor feels appreciated, and can share your website with their own tribe, increasing your nonprofit’s social reach.
  4. Social media mention with a photo: this also gives your donor a chance to share your cause with their network. Social connections influence many of our financial decisions, and charitable donations are no exception. Make it easy for your donors to use their influence on your behalf.
  5. Invite them to share a “Why I Give” story for your newsletter: a heartfelt account of why your cause is important to your donor will touch readers directly and help them see themselves in your donor’s shoes.
  6. Small token gift such as a small bag of popcorn with a card that says, “Thanks for making our charity pop!”: this combines humor, food and gifts – which people just eat up. Pun intended! Creative simple gifts like this are thoughtful, effective, and don’t have the donor questioning if you use their money wisely.

Be Gracious In Gratitude

Nonprofits that want to take their fundraising to the next level know the importance of recognition. Making recognition a daily concern cements the relationships your donors want to have with your nonprofit. Be gracious, transparent and consistent with your appreciation for your donors of all sizes and watch your fundraising success grow.