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Understanding Donors and Their Money
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Understanding Donors and Their Money

It appears that there is a common misconception that nonprofits adhere to when thinking about donors and their money. This feeling, although never actually voiced, reflects an opinion that people who are wealthy must not “value money” in the same way as they might because they have so much more.

This outward perception can be verified by the fact that the vast majority of nonprofits have no system in place to thank donors who give at various levels.

It is interesting that the people wanting money for their cause have high expectations from donors. Nonprofits, however, tend to be deaf, dumb, and blind to the fact that donors themselves also have high expectations, and rightly so, they should!

Nonprofits need to appreciate every gift. Showing appreciation does not have to be expensive nor does it have to be overly time consuming but it does have to be intentional.

Donors are not going to feel appreciated telepathically!

Below are seven inexpensive ways to show you care:

  1. hand written note speaks volumes. The note itself tells donors that you took your valuable time and energy to deliberately think about the person and what they have done.
  2. Taking time to stop by and visit your donors can be extremely important to stay connected. You can ask for their opinion and/or give them an update on your current programs. Regardless this tells someone you care enough about them to connect.
  3. greeting card: holidays, birthdays and anniversaries are all moments in time to stop and reflect on the moment. This moment can be personalized and yet another way you can connect with your donor.
  4. Publicity: Listing donors online on your website, in a newsletter, or in a newspaper ad thanking everyone for helping make your event successful are outward ways to let the donors know their contributions matter.
  5. Handmade items mean more. When we were children most of us have a memory of either making something handmade or being given something handmade. Regardless of how small or inexpensive this exudes a quality of the item being considered “special and something of value.” If possible have the clients you serve make something for donors. This act alone helps the donor quantify in their mind that a donation they might give is actually helping someone personally rather than just an organization that many times seem faceless and cold.
  6. Chocolate & Candy! Again if you can make a fresh batch of homemade cookies, great! However, an inexpensive container of name brand candy is just another way to express your appreciation.
  7. Create a focal point with a “wall of appreciation” at your program location as a way to publicly thank donors. This will help the clients you serve understand what goes into making your programs work as well as bring proper attention to the donors. Obviously, having this wall is not enough but you need to invite the donor out to see your facility. Begin and end your tour at this special location! You honor them by letting them know that everyday their name on the wall is a reminder to the board of directors, staff and clients that without donor support the program would not be successful.

There are literally hundreds of ways to say “thank you” and connect with your donor. However, the real challenge is breaking out of the pattern of complacency and making an honest effort towards creating a donor centered nonprofit organization versus staying self centered and aloof.

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.