4 Ways To Authentically Connect With Donors Through Gratitude

Haley Bodine
Haley Bodine

It is essential for your nonprofit to authentically connect with donors- not only to reach your fundraising goals, but also to have a great donor retention rate. Part 1 of this series discussed the importance of cultivating relationships with real people in face-to-face situations. In part 2, we focused on how to authentically connect with donors via social media platforms.

Today we are going to discuss the importance of making the effort to authentically connect with donors by expressing gratitude. While donations made to your organization are very important, your donors are even more important.

Acknowledging your donor’s gifts and contributions to your organization will not only enrich your donor connections, but will also help your organization propel forward to reach your future goals.

Appreciation goes a long way in developing healthy relationships. Saying thank you for everything from the mundane to the extravagant consciously reminds us that we are not owed anything; we have reason to be thankful.

When your donors know that you notice their efforts to support and drive your nonprofit’s mission forward, relational strings get tied together a little bit tighter.

There are many ways to say “thank you” to your donors.  Be it a personal telephone call, a public shout-out on social media, or a good, old-fashioned card in the mail, there is an art to saying thank you in meaningful ways.

Here are 4 tips to authentically connect with your donors through the art of thanks:

1. Be Prompt

In order for your thank you to be a relationship-building expression, it must be offered soon after a donor has contributed to your cause. If you miss the appropriate window, you risk your thank you becoming a simple act of propriety rather than an energizing force for continued relationship with your donors.

Your standard operating procedures should include a plan for how your organization will quickly respond to donations with a thank you, be it a telephone call, an email, or a formal card or letter.

2. Be Sincere

This is the most essential characteristic of telling someone thank you. People are hard-wired with an awareness of pretense. If you are going to take the time to say thank you (and you should), then be sincere in your thanks.

According to Jeff Haden, offering insincere thanks “is the kiss of death to a long-term [donor] relationship.”

Sincerity is conveyed in the details. Start by using your donor’s name. Whenever possible, take it one step farther and include a personal memory (e.g. “Dear John, It was so nice to meet you at our March 1 gala”).

Tell your donor how their contribution is being used and what impact they are making by being a partner with your organization. Your donors want to know that they are making a difference by giving to your nonprofit.

“Tell your donor how their contribution is being used and what impact they are making…” tweet this

Recently, The Millennial Impact Report found that 78% of Millennials are very likely or somewhat likely to stop donating if they are not informed how their donation has made an impact. Share stories of real impact, and let your donor know how important it is that they gave to you.

3. Follow IRS Guidelines

Some nonprofits prefer to simplify workflow by using their thank you letter as the contribution receipt to their donors.

This method runs the risk of being too impersonal to authentically connect with your donors, but if done well it can work. If you choose to go this route, be sure that you are prompt and sincere (as mentioned above), and also that you follow IRS guidelines for Substantiation and Disclosures.

4. Leave It At “Thank You”

There is a time to campaign and ask for more funding; your “thank you” is not the appropriate time. Take the time to say thank you promptly and sincerely, and leave it at thank you.

Your donors will appreciate the genuine act of gratitude, and will breathe easy knowing that you do not always contact them to ask for more. Connecting with your donors through saying “thanks” should be donor-focused. It is a response to what your donors have already done to support your cause.

However, you can invite your donors to keep in touch by following your social accounts, which in turn drives further engagement in future giving opportunities.

“Gratitude is powerful. Small, yes, but seismic in its ability to impact the relationships you have with your donors…” tweet this

Gratitude is powerful. Small, yes, but seismic in its ability to impact the relationships that you have with your donors. Gratitude breathes life into those it is being offered to. Expressing genuine, specific thanks to your donors tells them, “What you do matters. Who you are matters. Your contribution matters.”

You have the great privilege and opportunity to speak thanks to the people investing in your nonprofit. Being specific in your gratitude is encouraging. It empowers others to be brave in their services to you, to own their worth, and to live it out again and often.

To authentically connect with donors, encourage them with gratitude-this demonstrates you see value in their donation. You’ll find this will greatly enhance and enrich the relationship you share with them.

“To authentically connect with donors, encourage them with gratitude-this demonstrates you see value in their donation…” tweet this

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