Supporters give their time, money, and resources to further your cause — have you thanked them for it? Don’t let expressing gratitude be another item on a long to-do list. Instead, make a continuous effort to prioritize supporter retention with regular appreciation.
Supporters could give to any nonprofit, and there are over one million in America alone, but they chose you! Thank them in style with these creative gratitude ideas:
- Send a Welcome Kit
- Share Stories
- Send Personal Notes
- Offer Meaningful Gifts
- Host Appreciation Events
To make the best use of your time, consider planning out an appreciation schedule in advance — how often will you communicate? When will you send follow-up appreciation messages? Think about organizing your supporters by donation date, gift amount, and demographic data ahead of time to choose appropriate gratitude ideas for each supporter.
With this in mind, let’s explore some supporter appreciation ideas!
Send a Welcome Kit
Share a welcome kit to new supporters to make them feel at home after their first interaction with your nonprofit. Take advantage of their decision to support you by thanking them early with a kit full of nonprofit-specific goodies and information. Doing so will convince them to become full-time supporters while ushering them closer to the second donation, which can set them on a course toward recurring giving.
Your welcome kit can include the following:
- Invitation to an event or tour
- Information about volunteer opportunities
- Client testimonials
- Impact video explaining your nonprofit’s purpose
- Supporter survey
- Fact sheet for your cause
Funds2Orgs suggests setting up an email appreciation strategy in advance to send to new or first-time supporters. Encourage them to contact a designated staff member or link to corresponding website pages for more information.
Show your supporters you care by keeping them in the loop with the latest news surrounding your nonprofit. Engage with them on social media and post frequently to let them know of any new changes, campaign progress, or related insights.
Beneficiary stories, volunteer spotlights, and campaign milestones are all great topics to post online. Incorporating your mission impact in a tangible way in your content reminds supporters that their gift is making a difference.
You can also boost your storytelling efforts by:
- Highlighting how your nonprofit is taking a stance against relevant social issues
- Uplifting other community voices that align with your own
- Sharing how generous donations made your fundraiser profitable
- Using personal beneficiary stories as platforms for appeals
- Posting videos of your leadership thanking supporters or raising awareness
Stories unite supporters who want to know the ins and outs of your nonprofit happenings. Supporters benefit from an inside look into how their contributions are being used, not just with metrics but also with beneficiary testimonials. In short, show your appreciation for them by communicating with them regularly.
Send Personal Notes
Make an effort to express your gratitude with personalized thank-you letters. Although on the traditional side, thank you notes never go out of style due to their ability to communicate genuine appreciation on behalf of the sender.
To make your thank you note count follow these best practices:
- Be prompt: Within 48 hours of a supporter’s contribution, send a quick follow-up email or use digital tools like eCards to demonstrate responsiveness.
- Be personal: Address the supporter by name and, if applicable, mention your gratitude for their consistent support. Have your nonprofit CEO or another prominent leader sign the letter to carry more impact.
- Be specific: Mention your appreciation for their cash donation, in-kind donation, volunteer hours, or corporate matching gift donation.
If you’re not much of a writer, consider calling your supporters as a personal thank-you. Refer to your supporter CRM and ask them about their life — how their kids are doing, what they do for fun, or if they saw last week’s big game. Also, mention how they drove impact and why their specific contribution matters.
Keep it conversational, and remember supporters are people too! Their passion for your cause is their way of showing interest and investment. Take time to do the same for them by establishing regular contact and gratitude letters or calls.
Offer Meaningful Gifts
Gifts can easily be paired with thank-you letters or other forms of gratitude. Gifts acknowledge a supporter’s contribution with visual evidence and can easily be adjusted to suit the supporter’s interests.
Kwala’s guide to donor gifts suggests giving things like:
- Experiences: Game tickets, concerts, festivals, carnivals — you name it, there are tons of experiences you can gift to show your appreciation.
- Paper materials: Keep your supporters organized with quality calendars, notepads, and agendas to use in their daily schedules.
- Food or coffee: Send your supporters meal kits, fruit baskets, tea bags, or premium coffee grounds to enjoy.
- Branded swag: Tote bags, coffee mugs, hoodies, blankets, and hats make for perfect supporter gifts that also happen to be great advertising for your nonprofit.
- Art or plants: Flowers and wall art have a way of sprucing up a space with life and color. Show your appreciation by sending unique art or inviting plants.
Set aside a dedicated list of gifts corresponding to your supporter’s giving levels to ensure you match their generosity level. For instance, you wouldn’t give a single branded t-shirt to a donor who has been giving for five years. However, you might offer them tickets to their favorite band’s concert or their favorite team’s championship game.
Host Appreciation Events
If welcome gifts are for first-time supporters, full-blown appreciation events may be better suited for long-term supporters or donors. In other words, grand gestures like appreciation events match the level of support for long-term donors and volunteers better than a simple thank-you note.
Plus, planned events provide a specific date and time to say “thank you” and offer a meaningful opportunity to celebrate your supporter’s generosity while connecting with them on a deeper level.
Popular appreciation event ideas include:
- Dinner parties
- Game nights
Consider rescheduling or hosting a virtual event if your guests can’t make it. Make the occasion memorable special by hiring entertainment or sending your supporters a delicious lunch through their favorite restaurant’s delivery services.
Send invites in advance, and on the big day, take a moment to toast your top supporters’ ongoing contributions. Just make sure they are OK with public recognition. If not, write them a personal thank-you following the event.
Thanking your supporters doesn’t have to be complicated! Cultivate your relationships with them by creating an actionable gratitude schedule. Make sure to match your level of appreciation to their level of generosity and make consistent efforts to engage them.
About the AuthorWayne Elsey is the founder and CEO of Elsey Enterprises (EE) and a member of the Forbes Business Development Council. Among his various independent brands, he is also the founder and CEO of Funds2Orgs, which is a social enterprise that helps schools, churches, nonprofits, individuals and other organizations raise funds while helping to support micro-enterprise (small business) opportunities in developing nations.