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Saying Thanks, (and Keeping Them Giving)

As the end of the year draws near, it might be timely to think about ways you can thank donors for their support, remind them you're around ... and hopefully keep them giving into the new year!

Below is a list of ideas your group might be able to use:

1. Say Thanks: The first suggestion is a pretty simple one, but it is surprising (and a little disappointing) how many groups don’t say thanks when they receive a donation or any other type of support.

Say thanks immediately after receiving a donation or support. And then put that “thanks” in writing in your next correspondence with the supporter – when you send out the tax receipt, for example, or with the next update or e-newsletter you distribute.

The end of the year is another great time to say thanks, as well as express the hope for continued support in the following 12 months.

2. Provide updates: Providing information and updates about your group’s projects and work is great way of showing respect and appreciation.

This goes double for providing donors with updates on any work to which they have specifically offered support; if they’ve taken the time to support your work, so telling them what their support is helping you achieve makes sense – and could encourage further donations.

3. Invitations: Remember your donors and supporters when sending out invitations to your events.

It might be the launch of a program or project, a VIP visit, tour, media conference or another opportunity.

Sending an invitation to supporters shows them you appreciate their efforts, gives them the chance to “be a part of the team” and can provide good atmosphere – and improved media coverage – at launches, tours and other events.

4. Exclusive opportunities: Have you got any special offers or exclusive opportunities you can offer supporters or donors?

Examples could include supporter or donor gatherings, tours of your facility or projects (especially capital projects), access to offers or VIPs and savings on merchandise or items for sale at a sponsor’s business?

Again, these types of offers show you value and appreciate their support.

5. In touch and informed:An important part of effective donor relations is to keep supporters in the loop.

Communicate with them across the year with newsletters, email updates, invitations, reports, notifications and solicitations for further support. Many of these methods can be utilised in the one communication.

Be aware though that there is such a thing as communicating too much. Studies have found that the optimum number of times groups should communicate with donors each year is eight (though of course there is no absolutely correct number that covers all groups - you'll need to find out what suits your organisation the best!)

6. Earn and keep their trust: We all know the importance of trust in retaining donors, but in reality it is also a show of respect to those who support you.

Remember, donors consider trust to be an important influence on their decision to give.

7. Do the right thing: Hand in hand with earning donors’ trust is ensuring your group does the right thing.

Honest, transparent and responsible behaviour will help you achieve this aim. This type of group will attract and retain donors and supporters due to the good reputation it will build.

8. Get their opinion: It is one thing to value donor’s support – and their money – but it is another to make the effort to seek out and consider their opinions as well.

An annual survey is just one of numerous ways you can ask for meaningful feedback from those who support you. Doing so shows you respect supporters for more than just their money.

9. Tell them of your successes: Supporters want to hear about your success stories, as it justifies their support when they see how they have contributed to positive outcomes.

Trumpet your success and ensure you mention prominently supporters’ contributions towards it. It will again show you apprecaite and respect their support.

10. Thank them (again): It bears repeating because it is so easy to do, yet so often overlooked.

Valuing supporters, thanking donors and treating them with respect is not only best practice, but it is also good for the soul.