People ultimately choose to help people they like, and everyone likes someone who appreciates them, who makes our efforts feel worthwhile.
Supporters may forget what you say, they might even forget what you do, but they will never forget how you made them feel. This is the principle that underlies my belief in the importance of recognising the people who support our causes. If we want to build our supporter relationships, increase fundraising revenue and reach new donors we need to be better at saying thank you.
Since, for most of us, expressing our thanks is an everyday occurrence, we tend to think nothing of it, but the urge to feel special, valued and appreciated is so ingrained in our psyche, we can’t help but to gravitate to where those needs are met.
When we fail to properly and meaningfully show that we care about the help we receive, when we do not recognise the importance of that support, without meaning to we are telling our supporters that we don’t need their support, that their contribution is not valuable. After all how will I, or anyone for that matter, know that our support is valued and appreciated unless someone says thank you?
A receipts is not a thank you
I think we can all admit that, at times, we have neglected the people who care about us the most. It is easy to take for granted those who show us constant support while we seek to increase our revenues be soliciting donations from new prospects, encouraging fickle supporters to become regular donors, when in fact we should be placing our efforts on those who are dedicated to our cause by caring and nurturing those relationships.
Revising a donation letter for your quarterly appeal just won’t cut it because it just doesn’t feel very special. Why should someone give to an organisation that doesn’t take time to think about them, that doesn’t know how to say thank you? We need to be inventive about the way we say thank you, about how we recognise those who support us. We need to be a little bit different to show supporters that we have thought about them and let them know that their help is valuable.
Let your supporters say thank you
Allowing the people you help to say thank you and talk about the impact it has had on their lives is perhaps the most powerful way of thanking your supporters.
— No Kid Hungry (@nokidhungry) July 19, 2013
Create a Piece of “Thank You” Content
One of the easiest ways to express your gratitude is to write a “thank you” letter on your website, but even better is to share a thank you letter from the people they have helped. This provides an opportunity to connect their support to tangible outcomes so that your supporters know their contribution is valued and that it has made a difference.
Share Stories about Special Donors, Fund-Raisers, and Volunteers
One way to celebrate a non-profit supporter is to share their success story. These posts help your non-profit show appreciation to your most valuable supporters and persuade other supporters to do and give more.
Success stories will help to inspire people to support your cause by showing potential supporters the outcome of the work you do and the support you provide to fundraisers and volunteers.
A volunteer blogs about returning to ‘normality’ after 2 years in Cambodia & how VSO RV Weekends help in coming home http://t.co/IVgQYcA5lx
— VSO UK (@VSOUK) August 8, 2013
— charity: water (@charitywater) August 8, 2013
Start a Supporter’s Day
Why not designate a day to show your supporters you care and celebrate their commitment to the cause. You could even hold an event. As well as providing a fantastic opportunity to deepen your relationship with your key supporters and motivate them to take the next steps in supporting the charity.
It will enable your supporters to meet each other and build relationships with each other that will make your network of volunteer supporters that much stronger. It will create an amazing marketing opportunity with lots of great content to share about the work you do the involvement of your supporters and their achievements and help you to recruit more people to support your cause.
Send a Thank You Card
I would never begin to judge a digital message, as its kindness and sentiment is as sincere as any written word, but there are some things in life that you should slow down for and expressing your gratitude is one of them.
There is something so deeply personal and meaningful in a handwritten note of appreciation. Perhaps because, in this age when everyone emails, written letters have become so uncommon when we receive little handwritten letters it is both surprising and a little bit special. It shows us the person took time to tell us they care. How special would you feel if you were to receive a handwritten letter instead of a mail merged document sent from the local printing house?
A Video Message
Of course we can’t write letters to all our donors, so perhaps that it best reserved for really special relationships, but there are other ways we can thank supporters in a way that is intimate, but is still manageable.
Videos in particular can be a great way for you to communicate to all your supporters simultaneously in a way that still feels personal and satisfying. Your supporters will know that you made an effort to thank them and watching your message will make it all the more personal.
You could publish a video from your staff or film the people who you have been able to help with their support.
Show them how they have made a difference
Telling supporters what you have been able to achieve with their help by sharing the tangible outcomes is perhaps the most powerful way that you can thank them.
Additionally, being transparent can positively influence the likelihood that donors will support you in the future as they will be reassured by knowing how their money is being spent.
— World Vision UK (@WorldVisionUK) March 11, 2013
This could be through storing stories, photos of projects being completed, videos or messages about what you have been able to achieve with their support.
— Natalie (@nataliemariexx) March 2, 2013
The power of thanking supporters
There is never a downside to saying thank you to someone. It can only make your own life and the lives of those around you better.
The very act of saying “thank you” will reinforce the positive feelings that donors are already enjoying and motivate them to continue supporting your charity because they know you care about them and the support they are giving.
And so with that I want to take a moment to say “Thank You” to all of you who read my blogs, who takes time to comment on them, share them or who has made me feel happy by sending me a kind word in a tweet.