Donor management and event management software are two powerful tools for staying connected to those who contribute most to a charitable mission. Whether giving creativity, time or funds, supporters thrive when their efforts are recognized. A nonprofit should exert just as much energy toward thanking donors as it does recruiting them. The same rule applies to volunteers. The more appreciation is personalized, the more easily a nonprofit can establish meaningful bonds with its advocates, according to Nonprofit Hub. Gratitude requires upkeep. Losing touch means losing support.
Recognize unique individuals
A mass email to volunteers or a form letter to donors simply isn’t enough to say thank you. Readers know a standardized template when they see one, and no one wants to be treated as a generic part of the crowd, said nonprofit expert Randy Hawthorne. Fundraisers and volunteer managers need to allot time for crafting sincere, personal thank-you letters. If those in charge of sending thank-you letters aren’t natural writers, there’s no need to worry. Donation management software’s CRM tools organize notes for reference, so staff have some help in personalizing their correspondence. Instead of needing to remember who participated in what charitable function, volunteer managers can use event management platforms to keep tabs.
“A personally scripted message demonstrates sincerity.”
With information at one’s fingertips, letter writers don’t need to spend much time preparing to compose a thank-you note. They only need to pick up a pen, because a handwritten card is the most effective way to show gratitude. A personally scripted message demonstrates sincerity and effort. The human connection is even more important in the scope of online giving, in which donors are hidden behind a screen. Tangible appreciation can mean the world to philanthropists who could otherwise feel invisible.
Leave the door open
If the writer of a thank-you letter wants to flex their creative muscles, why not include an invitation for further engagement? This is a fantastic way to tell the recipient that the appreciation extends beyond a single moment. It isn’t necessary to push the next fundraising event. Instead, consider holding a thank-you dinner for donors or inviting volunteers to a seasonal party to celebrate their efforts. Such occasions give nonprofit staff a chance to thank their advocates in person, and also allow volunteers and donors to develop relationships with each other.
Keep it going
Gratitude can be expressed with more than the written word. Some instances call for other forms of appreciation. For instance, providing snacks for volunteers stuffing envelopes is a way to thank them immediately. Giving real-time props for hard work is just as necessary as acknowledging the effort after it’s finished, said Steven Shattuck, Bloomerang’s VP of Marketing. Something as small as remembering the favorite foods of volunteers can keep them coming back to the hardest tasks. Even notes as precise as individual candy preferences can be managed with CRM and analytics tools. Small things can create large impacts.
Twitter and other social media networks are also great platforms for naming individuals devoted to the cause, according to Wired Impact. Staff can engage with volunteers by live-tweeting an event, from setup to cleanup. This is not only a means of displaying instant thanks, it’s a way for an organization to reciprocate volunteers’ investment in their mission.
Complementing cards with visual media will make gratitude memorable. Doing so can also guard against the fear of inundating individuals with too much paper mail. Try reaching out with short thank-you videos. Online donors will appreciate having a face to a name, and speaking can sometimes feel more organic than writing. These videos can be sent via email or uploaded to a Facebook page.
Speaking of getting creative, volunteers are full of bright ideas that can help boost an organization’s success. Taking the time to solicit and listen to their visions lets them know how much they’re values.
Whether writing, talking or tweeting, it’s critical that gratitude be specific. With that in mind, there is no reason to fear the conversational tone. Formality might seem more professional, but too much of it can create distance between an organization and the person it wants to thank. Taking the time to proofread will ensure that a relaxed writing style still looks polished.