As all nonprofit leaders know, donors help nonprofits create new campaigns, start new projects, and ultimately achieve their missions. One of the most fundamental ways to retain donors is to thank donors, to make them feel appreciated for how they have contributed to your nonprofit’s mission. An appreciated donor is often a more engaged donor who will be willing to continue their contributions, allowing your nonprofit to continue the important work you do.
In September, Erica Waasdorp, President of A Direct Solution, (a company focused on small appeals and recurring giving), was joined by Maureen Camerato at EverTrue and John Cochran at Eleven Fifty Seven for NXUnite’s “Their Name in Lights: Donor Appreciation Best Practices.” The panelists homed in on the importance of donor appreciation as well as best practices to appreciate donors, easy ideas to put in place to keep in touch with donors, and planning donor appreciation events.
Why is donor appreciation important?
Donor appreciation gives donors the feeling that they are making a difference, even for those donors contributing a smaller amount. Erica informed the audience that the average recurring donation is $25 per month, and some organizations feel that, because a donation of that size is not a major gift, it is not worth recognizing in a major way.
But each and every donation matters and nonprofits should let donors know that they care because when donors feel that they are making a difference, nonprofits will be able to retain them and keep them more engaged. And more engaged donors are not only more easily retained but will donate more money— as noted by 360Match Pro, recurring donors give 42% more per year than one-time donors.
How can your nonprofit make donors feel appreciated today?
Donor recognition is clearly a strategy that maximizes their support. But what kind of methods should you use to make donors feel appreciated?
Erica stressed that donor appreciation does not have to include grand gestures or expensive thank-you gifts— a tiny gesture can make donors feel special, and thus appreciated. This can be as simple as making them feel part of the organization, and with so many resources available such as Zoom calls and emails, “There’s no excuse not to keep donors engaged,” Erica said.
One simple method to talk to donors and let them know they’re appreciated is inviting them to a town hall. Because not every donor will be able to attend a town hall meeting, Erica recommended recording the town hall and sending out the recording to everybody afterward.
What should your nonprofit keep in mind when planning a donor recognition event?
While there are many low-cost, simple, and even free ways to recognize donors nonprofits should implement year-round, sometimes hosting a larger-scale event to thank donors can be incredibly fruitful for your nonprofit. When planning this event, there are a few things to consider:
Have a goal in mind for what you want to happen at the event. As Maureen highlighted, every donor recognition event should have a subset of donors you want to highlight or a society you want to celebrate. Time is precious to your donors. As in-person events return, your event needs to have some type of content that your donors can’t get anywhere else. Your donors should feel that it is important to see this content live and in person.Have name tags and a sign-in sheet. As Erica suggested, name tags might seem simple and can get easily overlooked, but your organization needs to know which donors actually came in order to most efficiently follow up with these attendees. And you can even use them to include recognition to a special group of donors.Finally, and most importantly, say thank you. Know ahead of time which team member will be sending out thank you letters, or maybe consider alternative methods of thanking attendees post-event.
Donor recognition events can and should be a fun and celebratory way to engage with your nonprofit’s supporters, but they are also integral for retention and showing appreciation.
As the panelists on “Their Name in Lights: Donor Appreciation Best Practices” stressed, donor recognition is crucial. During the panel, they discussed why it’s crucial, how to recognize donors, and what you should know when planning an event to appreciate your donors.
Donor recognition should be a focus of the daily work your nonprofit does because, ultimately, it will benefit your organization long-term, ensuring that your nonprofit can do even greater work and accomplish even bigger goals.
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