I’ve no doubt, as a nonprofit professional, you’re thankful for your donors. After all, they provide the fuel that keeps your mission powered; your community, served. But, do you sincerely and frequently express your gratitude?

Nearly a quarter of donors say they were never thanked for their donations. That sounds impossible! Right? I suspect they probably were thanked, but the message was so canned, so underwhelming, so uninspired (or merely a line in their emailed tax receipt) that they didn’t realize they were being thanked, and if they were, it certainly wasn’t memorable.

Better Thank Yous

So, what better time than Thanksgiving to rethink your nonprofit’s thank you strategy? First, I suggest you brainstorm with the team different ways to create better thank you messages. Be creative. Tie them to the theme of your campaign. Tell impact stories. Show donors how they’re making a difference in the community.

Thank You Series

And try not to fall into the “one and done” trap. Instead, consider launching a “Thank You Series,” during which you thank your donors at least three times for their donation – once immediately following their gift; then again in a week, with an update on your progress; and again in three months, showing the impact of their donation.

Showing impact is so powerful. I really can’t emphasize this enough. For example, instead of just saying, “We raised $10,000 towards our annual campaign,” say, “We provided 50 students with after-school tutoring, thanks to your donations.” Then, share a story about one of those kids!

Bottom line, tell supporters what they want to hear, which is, according to the Community Philanthropy 2.0 Survey:

  • Organizational impact (80 percent)
  • Success stories (74 percent)
  • More details about your organization (71 percent)
  • Information on financial accountability (41 percent)

Phone Bank

Another powerful tool is a thank you phone call from a member of your board. Donors who received a thank you call from a board member gave 39 percent more, according to Penelope Burke, author of “Donor Centered Fundraising.” And, after 14 months, the average gift was 42 percent higher. So the return on your investment is tremendous.

In addition to board members, you might consider asking those who are positively impacted by your programs or services to make calls. I recently worked with a Boys and Girls Club that asked teens from its chapter to make thank you calls. The donors who received calls from these kids were just blown away. And, the phone calls served as a great training opportunity for the teens, as well.

Not a lot of nonprofits are being creative with their thank yous, thanking donors multiple times for their gifts, or calling them to express thanks. If you implement one or more of these strategies, you’ll most certainly stand out in the crowd.