Giving Thanks Some Meaning

November 22, 2019

“This Thanksgiving, I am so thankful for generous supporters like you and all the wonderful work we’ve accomplished together this year.”

Cue: eyes glazing over, and a finger hovering over the DELETE button.

As a nonprofit, of course you’re endlessly thankful for your loyal donors, but how do you express your gratitude in a meaningful way? In a way that continues to build the relationship, ignites affinity for your organization, and ultimately encourages them to give once more?

Show, Don’t Tell

Your mother was right: actions do speak louder than words. You can say you’re thankful for support (and yes, you should), but what about a photo or video that captures the energy and heart of your mission? That’s what keeps people coming back for more. If you don’t have that award-winning photo at the ready, consider capturing quick thoughts from your staff! ForwardPMX client-partner Action Against Hunger demonstrates this in their simple, yet warm and engaging Thank You video:

View the whole video here:

A video like this is perfect for Thanksgiving but can also be leveraged year-round. Put your content to work and add it to your donation confirmation page or include a link to watch in your welcome series. And while this video features staff, they do an excellent job of bringing it back to the communities that donors are helping, which brings us to our next point…

Remove the Middle Man (That’s You)

As a nonprofit staff member or executive, you’re tirelessly keeping the trains on the track. Answering emails, talking to donors on the phone, working in the field for those you serve – it’s all important work that ultimately fulfills your mission.

But a donor doesn’t necessarily give to [insert your org name here], they want to give to…the animals, children, patients, families, disaster victims, etc. you serve! How about leveraging that audience to really drive home the impact a gift can have?

I worked with an organization years ago whose standard thank you acknowledgement was from a family served. The first interaction a donor had with the organization wasn’t a letter from the CEO, it was simply from “The Jones Family” with a message of sincere thanks.

Now that’s meaningful.

“I Wanna Talk About Me”

On the other hand, as altruistic as we think people are in wanting to hear from communities served, consider what else really motivates someone: they want to see themselves. Their own name. A reminder of their specific impact.

Craft an email or letter with a donor’s name in the header or sidebar. Personalize the impact their support has had in their own state, county or town. Equate their giving amount or level to a tangible effect.

And – time it right. You know when your organization’s biggest appeal goes out. Get donors feeling great seeing their name in lights just before you make your ask. Which actually brings me to…

Always Be Asking

In any communication from your organization, a donor should always have the ability to give. It doesn’t need to be aggressive in any way, especially as you express gratitude, but giving should always be an option. It could be a small donate link in the footer of an email, a reply device or URL provide in an acknowledgement letter, or even a quick update on the latest project as you reach out to specific donors by phone. I’ve seen a 10-point font donate URL in a passive campaign thank you email generate significant revenue!

So, as Thanksgiving approaches, or as you think about how to say a big “Thank You!” after year-end giving, don’t use a generic line of gratitude that could be from any number of organizations. Think outside the box and breathe some life, originality, and creativity into your thank you’s that can be used all year long.

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