No matter what time of year, it’s always the perfect time to show your donors some love.
If you wait until year-end when thanking donors, or right before you are asking for another gift, it may be too late.
The numbers on donor attrition are abysmal – currently, new donor retention is at 17.6%, the worst it’s been in 5 years.
If you are a small nonprofit, every donor that you lose can cause upheaval and financial insecurity.
In terms of thanking donors in consistently creative ways, you may be suffering from the nonprofit reality of stretched resources and a limited budget.
Engaging donors takes time, thought, and purpose, and you may not know where to begin.
Never fear! Using social media and some free online tools, you can create your very own #DonorGratitude campaign, on a shoestring budget!
Here are just 10 ways that you can show your donors that you appreciate them.
1) Thank you graphics
Use free graphic design tools like Canva, Adobe Spark, and Crello to create colorful and fun thank you graphics that will speak to your donors.
Remember to design or re-size the graphics for each of your social networks as the optimal sizes and resolutions vary.
2) Thank you videos
Take your smartphone out and create a short video, genuinely thanking donors for being a part of your community.
No need for fancy editing, background music, or opening titles! Just speak from the heart and I guarantee your donors will respond.
3) Ads on Facebook and Instagram
These can be done on a shoestring, I promise!
As we all know, getting traction and seeing engagement on Facebook is getting more and more challenging. Instagram is sure to follow, as marketers are spending more time there.
If you have $10-$50 and just a few minutes, you can create an ad targeted specifically to your donor file!
If you have a nonprofit Facebook Page, you can design and post this kid of ad, both on Facebook and on Instagram, all from the Facebook Ad Manager.
All you have to do is upload your donor list into the Facebook Ad Manager and create a Custom Audience.
This way, only your donor list will see the ad that you create. Take those great thank you graphics or that thank you video you created and share it here!
Resource: The Nonprofit Facebook Ad Planner
4) Gratitude Ambassadors
Instead of (or in addition to) your Social Media Ambassadors, how about mobilizing a volunteer group of Gratitude Ambassadors?
Create a private Facebook Group and invite people in, explaining that all you asking them to do is help you thank and acknowledge donors throughout the year, or during a specific gratitude campaign.
Tasks can include sharing your donor thank you video far and wide, writing thank you notes, making thank you phone calls, sending thank you emails, and more!
5) Story Series featuring donors
All nonprofits should be collecting and sharing stories about their work and the clients that they serve.
In addition, how about collecting and sharing the stories of the donors that make your work possible?
From YouTube: “Being part of the Chronicle Season of Sharing Fund community has helped Bobbie and Ia feel more hopeful, and more connected. At a critical moment of need, help from the Season of Sharing Fund put a roof over Bobbie’s head. Ia is grateful for the real difference her donation will make because 100% will go to a neighbor when they need help most.”
Donors are people after all, and they like giving their opinions and feeling heard.
Send out a brief survey to your donors using a free platform like SurveyMonkey, and ask them targeted questions.
There is one caveat – you should be willing to read the responses and act on the information that you receive. It should not simply go into a file or the recycling bin.
7) Special events
When I say special events, I do not mean a black tie gala with a celebrity speaker and an open bar. (Although those can be fun.)
Enlist those Gratitude Ambassadors to host “thank you” house parties.
Encourage IRL (in real life) donor meet ups at a local coffee shop.
Stand outside on the street corner (in warmer weather) holding signs that say We love our donors!
Throw a free outdoor concert and invite your donors and supporters. See if your local city or recreation department will sponsor it.
I struggled to find examples of nonprofits holding local meet ups for donors and supporters, just to connect them, thank them, and not specifically for fundraising.
8) E-cards and memes.
You have definitely seen the funny, sarcastic electronic cards created by Some E-Cards. And I know that you probably love memes.
Create your own using Meme Generator or even a graphic design tool like Canva.
Clearly you would not use them to make fun of your donors, but if you get creative and use some humor, memes can be a fun way to get immediate engagement on social media and to get some laughs.
A great example of using GIFs and memes to create community and engagement is the Nonprofit Problems Tumblr account:
9) Virtual hangout
Using any of the free virtual conferencing tools available to you, including Google Hangouts and Zoom, why not host a monthly exclusive “happy hour” or Q&A with your staff and ED?
Invite your donors to attend as a special thank you, and let them know that it will be brief, fast-moving, and FUN.
Share insight into the issue and the problem that you are solving, and make it informative and interesting.
You can also invite people to pre-scheduled Facebook Live broadcasts using my favorite live streaming tool, Belive.tv.
10) Phone calls
You can’t have a list talking about donor gratitude and ways to thank donors without ending with one of the best ways to show appreciation – a simple, brief, thank you phone call.
Commit to calling 10 donors per day.
I will bet you that 99% of them won’t pick up the phone, but leaving a genuine, heartfelt thank you in a voicemail can be just as good!
You can always just say thank you, or share a brief story of someone whose life was changed by your work, or invite them to one of those real-life meet-ups.
How do you show donors love and gratitude? Leave you thoughts in the comments on on Twitter.