“Thank you for your donation” – there’s nothing wrong with a prompt, short, and sweet thank you note in your inbox. But after a while, it can feel robotic and impersonal, even if you insert the donor’s name or add a signature to the bottom of the message. If you are looking to get out of an email rut, check out these ideas for how to thank donors beyond email.
1. Handwritten notes
Go old school with honest pen-on-paper thank you notes. They are definitely personal, and who doesn’t love getting a real letter these days? If you work directly with communities that those donations support, take a page out of DonorsChoose’s handbook and consider collaborating with them on the letters.
2. Thank you videos
Remember “pivot to video”? It’s still happening. As of 2015, there were reports of over 8 billion video views each day on Facebook alone. With YouTube and Instagram continuing to grow and allowing for longer form content, we can only expect those numbers to increase. In addition to the reach of video, it can be a humanizing and intimate way to thank donors for their contribution and highlight their impact. Whole Whale client Lung Cancer Foundation of America produced a thank you video after their year-end fundraising campaign, and we love how it showcases stories of gratitude directly from people within the LCFA community. It doesn’t have to be done in a professional setting — recording on an iPhone or a computer feels authentic — and is less of a lift for your team. If you decide to post on social media, be sure to review our tips to avoid common video mistakes.
3. Thank you landing pages
Make your donors the stars on a landing page of your website. It could be the homepage, or a campaign specific page like we saw in the LCFA example mentioned above. Highlight any key statistics that show where their money has gone and how they have contributed to enacting real change. Include your thank you video if you make one, and add a click to share so they can encourage their friends to contribute as well.
4. Social engagement
Encourage your donors to share their contributions on social media by adding a social share to the donation flow. If you use Facebook fundraising —we recommend that you do — the social sharing part is already baked in. Then, take the next step and like, share, or comment to say thank you. Share an final, overarching thank you post at the end of the fundraiser highlighting the impact of the donations you received.
5. Phone calls
Another old school technique that still works: Phone calls! Consider calling top donors to thank them for their contributions. Avoid asking for more money in the moment, and really talk to those donors to learn more about them and why they are passionate about your cause. This could be useful when sending tailored emails to major donors in the future.
6. Stewardship levels
Create different tiers for different donation amounts. For each tier you could:
Give them a gift item
For example, for a $10 donation, the donor receives a note, for $20 they receive a hat, etc.
Make their donation tangible
For each possible donation amount, instead of offering a gift, highlight the impact a donation can have. Check out this example below from Friendship Bridge, an organization that provides loans and education to impoverished women so they can start and expand businesses:
Give them a shoutout
Highlight them on event programs, in an upcoming email, or on social media (with their permission).
7. Get togethers
Host an event for donors to gather and meet other people passionate about the same cause. It could be a casual coffee in your HQ, a meetup in your neighborhood, or sponsored gatherings in other cities. Take a few minutes to thank them for their contributions and highlight how their money will be used, and then keep it casual. Mix, mingle, and get to know your donors on a human level.
Got some creative thank you ideas of your own? Share them with us and tweet @WholeWhale.