A handwritten thank you note goes a long way to help convey that you appreciate a donation. If the donation was given for a specific project, don’t be bashful about contacting the donor again to give them an update on the progress or in general to tell them how things are going. We all have heard the old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, so when appropriate think about sending a picture!
Some donors like the idea of seeing their name on a donor wall while others could care less. You might also be surprised to know how many donors already have a box full of plaques stored in their closet. Some of the tactics used to thank donors include special donor dinners, highlighting donors in a newsletter or annual report and in cases when there is a really big gift, a press release is done.
Knowing what your donor might want can be as simple as asking. However, realize that the act of thanking donors does not have to be only when they make a gift but also for just being there to support your cause. Most donors I know want to feel that you respect what they think and not just the fact that they might have money to give. Getting donors’ input and acting on what they say is important. I’m not suggesting that you pretend to be interested but what I am saying is that you need to be interested.
Some time ago there was a special about Warren Buffet on television. Being one of the richest and most successful business persons in the world everyone is eager to learn from him, find out what he thinks, and try to apply in some way what they have learned to benefit their life and/or investment portfolio. We listen intently to what he says.
While you might not have Mr. Buffet as a donor it would be wise for you to take the
time to hear what your donors might have to say! If you are the executive director of an organization I have a suggestion that I would like you to bring up at your next board meeting. I would propose that you seek board approval to allocate money so you can buy you and a donor’s lunch at least one day a week, for an entire year. The sole purpose of this lunch meeting will be to connect with your donor and to learn. Your job is to ask leading questions and not really to talk much. But hear what your donor has to say.
If you do this and really make this part of what you see as your job description then not only will you be able to answer the question of how you might thank your donors but also you will gain valuable insight on what you need to do to improve your overall operation!
DISCLAIMER: This information is not intended to provide legal or accounting advice, or to address specific situations. Please consult with your legal or tax advisor to supplement and verify what you learn here.