Six Ways to Give Big Thanks to Big Donors

This article originally ran in our Nonprofit Hub Magazine, a free bi-monthly magazine dedicated to providing focused content on a particular topic.

In our September/October 2014 edition, we explored year-end giving. To reserve your free copy of our next issue, sign up today.

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When year-end approaches, everyone is thinking about making that last-ditch ask—but ‘tis the season to give thanks as well. Don’t forget to let your donors know how much you love and appreciate them, especially your biggest and best supporters.

Here are six ways to above and beyond with a creative and heartfelt “thank you.”

1. Ditch the business letter and send a card.

The best thank-yous are friendly, warm and personal, albeit short and succinct. No need to write a lengthy love letter, but a few handwritten words of appreciation in a holiday card will go far to show your best donors that you value them. You can still send a year-end summary of your organization’s fundraising results and how the money was used. Just don’t let your thank-you get lost in it.

2. Add an invitation to something that doesn’t involve another donation.

You want your best supporters to stick with you into the coming year, so invite them to do so—but without asking for another financial gift. Invite them to your next event, offer a behind-the-scenes tour or maybe plan a special “meet and greet” for your most loyal supporters. You could also mention volunteer opportunities for 2015, or ask them to follow you on Facebook or Twitter. Invite them to engage without reaching for their wallet.

3. Record a video message.

Create a video thank-you message for your donors and post it on your website, YouTube, your blog, even your social media pages. It’s a great way to illustrate the impact of their giving by featuring thank-you messages from the people you’ve served. And don’t worry about getting fancy. It’s actually most effective to create something casual and personable, and you can easily do that with your smartphone’s camera.

4. Send a picture postcard from your staff.

Several digital photo apps let you turn your photos into instant postcards (see Postagram or Touchnote, for example). You could easily take some candid shots of your staff at work during the day and turn these into postcards with a short thank-you message written on the back. A photo with a handwritten note—it doesn’t get much more personable than that.

5. Send the larger donors a special gift.

The holiday season is the perfect time to give back to your best donors with a small gift, like a book, a calendar or a framed picture of your organization in action. Here’s a great example of “it’s the thought that counts.” Don’t stress too much about what to give—it’s the kind gesture of appreciation that will matter the most.

6. Invite them to a year-end party.

You have time—start planning now. This could be as simple as a wine and cheese “happy hour” at your board president’s house or coffee and dessert in a private room at a local restaurant. Developing this informal community will build a sense of loyalty and partnership between you and your donors, plus you can also use these opportunities to look for potential board members.