Giving is about stewardship. And stewardship is, by definition, the job of taking care of something. We often encourage donors to take care of the money that God has given them, and we, in turn, promise to take care of the donation they give; spending it wisely and honestly.
Have you ever asked, “How can we steward the donors God gives us, not just their donation?” What if we treat donors like we treat their funds? Being purposeful about taking care of the people God uses to give the funds?
It’s important that we don’t start working from a motivation point of, “How can I not lose this donor’s gift?” This question is short-sighted and closed fisted, and usually leads to action born out of fear. We must push ourselves to see bigger and to act out of faith. God brought you the donors. Take care of them because He has provided, not because you want something more from them. Thank donors for their generous gift. Thank them like a child of the King would— generously!
The first step in taking care of our donors is to purposefully meet a gracious gift with a gracious response. Reminding donors they are truly an important part of your ministry team. Called to do God’s important work.
Now for the fun part—figuring out how to do it! There are a million ways to get good at saying “Thank you”! Here are few to help you get started!
Send a Welcome Package. When you receive a gift from a new donor send them a “welcome to our family” package. Create an experience and people will always remember you. The package could include a coffee mug, window sticker, program guide, copy of a newsletter, etc. Whatever you include, have fun with it!
Attach a Video. Video is a huge part of everyone’s lives, so instead of writing a thank you email, send a video thank you. Include the entire team or video of the people you are helping, or messages from the ones that you reach with your donor’s gifts. Have fun with this idea and show that that your ministry is alive and full of life!
Handwrite a Thank You Note. Handwritten notes are one of the most powerful tools to say thank you. If someone gave you a handwritten note last month, I bet it’s still on your desk. Taking the time to hand write an individualized thank you note is rarer now than it should be. A handwritten note speaks volumes to the one who receives it.
Use Social Media. All of our organizations have social media exposure: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., Use your platforms to express your gratitude to the world! This lets donors know you’ve received their donation and you’re grateful. It also tells the world of the donor’s commitment to your organization, and shows your organization’s commitment to its donors.
Pick up the Phone. Imagine your donor had a very bad day. Her boss was on her all day and her “to do” list is a mile long and virtually untouched. Then, she receives a voicemail message. The person on the other end thanks her for her gift and reminds her that she’s an important part of changing lives. We should never underestimate the power of encouragement.
Make it an Event. A “Thank-You Event” can be an expensive way to say thank you. However, it can also yield wonderful results. Showing people you appreciate them at a concert or banquet means a great deal to people. Remember, your donors are experiencing life too, problems at work, problems with children or grandchildren, and a world of other issues. Spend time and money to encourage your donors and invest into them as people. This gives you a purposeful chance to breathe life and gratitude into the people that are taking steps to live life with meaning.
Always Resolve Complaints ASAP. Never let a complaint go without a resolution and determine that resolution takes place within the first 24 hours. Unresolved complaints can cause a lot of damage to your ministry and to your efforts of creating a culture of gratitude. Enter into the tension and get issues resolved quickly!
Be Consistent. A consistent “We Thank You” approach is necessary. Once you start, don’t stop. Remember, it can look slightly different from year to year, but you must determine its importance and make it a non-negotiable part of stewarding donors; the donors that God gives to you. Build a culture of gratitude and stay with it!
These are just a few ideas you can use to create your own Thank You Program. Get your team together and think about more ideas. There are many, many good solutions! Be creative and have fun! You are going to find that fundraisers who are focused on showing gratitude are better fundraisers; and donors that are “thanked well” are better donors. There is really no good reason not to start now!