Another Veterans Day is upon us, and to millions across the country and beyond, it represents a day of remembrance, bravery, thankfulness, grace, and honor.

My husband and I both come from military families. His father served as an Army Lieutenant within the “Old Ironsides” 173rd Infantry Brigade during the Vietnam War, while my grandfather served as a colonel in the United States Air Force during World War II. Plus, my husband himself served within the Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment, 3rd Battalion prior to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

For these and many other reasons, we’re truly invested, heart and soul, in the military and veteran community. So much so, that for our wedding earlier this year, we decided in lieu of the usual kitchen gadgets and household gifts we wanted friends and families to donate to a nonprofit organization that supports veterans.


Prior to our wedding festivities we researched and selected two organizations to which guests were invited to donate: K9s for Warriors, which provides service canines to warriors suffering from PTSD as a result of military service post 9/11, and Homes for Our Troops, which helps build mortgage-free, specially adapted homes nationwide to severely injured veterans post 9/11.

Thanks to our friends and family, we were able to help raise more than $1,000 towards these two missions. Through the process, we learned a few things worth sharing from the perspective of a nonprofit organization, as well as our own perspective as donors.

Nonprofit Organizations: Treat Every Donor Like a Major Donor

It’s safe to say K9s for Warriors has won us over for life. When we have the opportunity to give or recommend an organization to give to, it will most certainly be this worthy nonprofit! Not only did we connect to and love the cause, but after all was said and done, the organization made us feel truly embraced and welcomed into its community of supporters.

How so? The team simply communicated, cared, and shared in all the right ways, at all the right times. From the personal phone calls thanking family and friends who made donations, to the wonderful, hand-signed congratulations card sent within one week of our wedding, to the follow-up email at our six-month anniversary sending us well wishes in our new married life and thanking us again for choosing K9s for Warriors on our special day they really knew when and how to keep us feeling appreciated and engaged.

In addition, the nonprofit sends us updates via email and direct mail that educate us on programs and services, success stories of veteran and canine matches, and upcoming news (which I must note don’t bombard our mailbox, but instead come at just the right intervals).

I’m sure these are best practice tactics; who knows, after all I’m usually on the fund accounting side of the house here at Abila. But, they definitely worked, and worked well. Check out Abila’s Donor Loyalty Study to learn more about strategies and tactics around content, donor communication, and more.

Donors: Give Where Your Passion Lies

Our decision to support the active military and veteran community was driven by our experiences, past and present. The best part of researching and selecting a veteran-focused organization to support was learning how many different kinds of organizations were out there providing a variety of services to veterans near and far. Our selection was absolutely based on what we hold near and dear in our own lives. For example, we both grew up in households where dogs were considered members of the family, so we felt a connection to how much a service dog can do emotionally and physically for a veteran in need.

This Veterans Day (and anytime of year, really) it’s easier than ever to give back to those who have fought and sacrificed to protect our freedom, our families, and our country.

For example, are you a sporting event fan or a concert lover? Check out where you can help support veterans and their families in building life-long memories at a variety of events across the nation.

Love fishing? Check out Flyin’ Heroes and its fly fishing program that helps promote therapeutic growth and rehabilitation for U.S. military veterans.

Do you want to help active military families? Check out Project Evergreen and its GreenCare Troops who help provide free lawn and landscape services to thousands of military families nationwide. It’s amazing, there are SO many programs and organizations that help in SO many different ways.

The beauty of supporting today’s veterans is that the smallest effort can have such an amazing impact. This week I’ll be heading out to purchase a green light to Greenlight A Vet. Something my husband and I caught while watching the Country Music Awards last week. Simply changing one light to green on the outside of your home can serve as an ongoing symbol of support for our veterans and active troops. It’s as easy as a lightbulb to show your appreciation and support for our nation’s bravest men and women from neighbors down the road to many more across the nation.