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7 Ways To Thank Donors During Thanksgiving

This fall, our CauseVox team has talked a lot about how important the end of the year is from a fundraising standpoint. After all, many nonprofits and charities raise upwards of 30% or more of their annual operating budget during these few short months.

But we also know that your year-end efforts aren’t just centered around fundraising.

You’re spending time engaging and retaining your loyal, committed donors. Without them, you wouldn’t be able to make an impact on this world. You know it’s true and so do your donors!

So, this Thanksgiving, aside from finalizing your #GivingTuesday plans and preparing your year-end fundraisers, spend some time thanking the people who mean the most to your organization.

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Here’s a list of 7 ways to thank your donors this Thanksgiving.

1. Engage Your Board of Directors To Make Phone Calls

thank donors

Your Board of Directors isn’t just a governing body, they’re also your biggest supporters and most eager volunteers. As Thanksgiving nears, provide your board members with a list of donors you’d like them to reach out to for a quick yet sincere “thank you.”

Target your major donors, new donors, or any other donor segment that you feel needs that extra “touch.” Keep in mind the size and scope of your donor base before giving out call lists. 10-20 phone calls is a reasonable number for the average person. Any more than that and your board may feel overwhelmed.

This activity is a great way to keep your board members engaged in their role while also ensuring your donors are thanked.

2. Enlist The Help Of Those You Serve

thank your donor

Over 5 years ago I helped coordinate a back to school supply drive. As a thank you, some of the kids that received supplies gifted our team some original artwork made with their new crayons and markers. I still have my picture today.

Your organization doesn’t necessarily have to work with kids to provide the same impact. Ask your clients if they’d like to be featured in a “thank you” video or share their story through a letter.

Don’t forget that artwork can be copied and mailed to donors (clients don’t have to make 100 original drawings!) After all, it’s the thought that counts.

3. Send A Letter Highlighting Impact

thank your donor

Don’t wait until your annual report to start sharing the good news about the impact made with your donor’s dollars. This Thanksgiving, let your donor know exactly how they’ve contributed to the “bigger picture.”

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Sure, you’re not going to have your final numbers in yet, but that doesn’t matter. Say something as simple as

“So far this year, we’ve been able to give 100 single mothers vouchers for their kids to attend quality preschools. That means that you’re giving kids a leg up and their parents a peace of mind. This wouldn’t have been possible without your support. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you!”

To really ramp up the personalization, skip the generic printed letter and opt for a handwritten note.

4. A Simple “Thank You” Card

thank your donor

When’s the last time you sent out a card to your donors that simply said: “thank you”? If it’s been a while, then Thanksgiving is the perfect time to let your donors know how much you appreciate them in this easy, yet personal way (if you’re using CauseVox’s fundraising tools, you’ll able to customize an auto-thank you receipt and message to go out to all donors immediately).

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Thank you cards are not as common as you’d think, so yours is sure to stand out.

5. Give Them A Discount

thank your donor

As a “perk” for volunteering during a service day, my former nonprofit employer handed out a coupon to a local restaurant. To secure the discount, we reached out to the restaurant’s manager and asked if there was something we could do to reward our volunteers and they delivered.

The coupon was appreciated by the recipients, brought in extra business to that restaurant, and also showed that the business was giving back to the community.

Partner with a local store or restaurant to the same effect. Once you’ve hammered down the details, mail the coupon or voucher to your donors with a simple note expressing your thanks for their continued support.

6. Throw A Party

thank your donor

Most of the time, when nonprofits and charities throw a party, it’s actually a fundraiser. But that’s not the only reason to throw a party.

Around Thanksgiving (and before the hectic, event-packed month of December) plan a get-together for your donors. Don’t ask them for donations. It should just be a “thank you”—and that’s it.

To keep your costs down, talk with a local business or major donor about sponsoring the event.

7. Surprise Them

thank your donor

I always go back to Watsi when it comes to rockstar “thank you” examples because they do it right. Out of the blue, Watsi mailed their recurring donors a printed book of beautiful photographs from the field.

If you feel like you’ve exhausted all your traditional “thank you” tactics by Thanksgiving, throw something new into the mix. Here are some suggestions:

  • Profile donors (of all gift sizes) on your website and through social media
  • Give a tour of your charity to interested parties
  • Offer customized opportunities for engagement. For example, invite young, millennial donors to connect on LinkedIn for future meet-and-greets, or ask major donors if/how they’d like to get involved on a deeper level (serve on board, volunteer, etc.)
  • Compile and mail out your own photo book using a service such as Social Print Studio

You can never go wrong by incorporating an element of surprise into an otherwise standard “thank you.”

A “thank you” needn’t be big or elaborate to have meaning.

This Thanksgiving, give thanks to those who fund the change your organization creates. There’s no better time of the year than now to let your donors know how important they are to you.

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For more information on donor relations, including engagement and retention, check out the following resources:

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