Do you remember the last time someone thanked you genuinely?

Sincere gratitude translates differently than the automated, rehearsed thank-you’s we so often exchange in conventional conversation: after a purchase, when someone holds the door etc.

“‘Preciate it”. A mumbled “Thanks”. A hurried “Thank you”.

Recognizing that our social responsibilities are somewhat relative, we know that the gifts from our donors are a privilege. Without mandate, we can only speculate why our donors support our cause. Whatever the reason may be, it must be a priority of an organization to truly thank these special individuals, who take the initiative to act. When done correctly, the potential to maximize on the resulting social capital is exponential.

The way we choose to express our gratitude sends a message to its recipient. For example, larger donors and corporate supporters are often given distinct welcomes to organizations. However..isn’t every gift incredibly important? Every potential donor relationship is more valuable than the immediate value of the gift, because of the potential future value. Relationship building with your donors is the opportunity to turn a goodwill transaction into a goodwill alliance.

Change the statistics for your organization! Approximately 65% of givers will donate to your organization only once, while 80% would have given a second time had they been engaged properly. Considering the gravity of this data, why not use your ‘Thank You’ as the first step towards donor retention and rapport? The execution of a well constructed thank you is an irreplaceable marketing tool and relationship builder for your nonprofit. ‘Thank You’ emails have a 30% increase in open and click through rates than marketing emails. This is one of the reasons Hopsie recommends that you refrain from requesting donations in thank you emails: to fully benefit from the subtle brand establishment of appreciation.

Personalized thank you’s help establish relationships, which can then lead to donor retention. Donor retention is key to your organizations ROI. It costs approximately five times more to acquire new donors than if your organization had maintained its existing donors! Time spent acquiring new donors should be < Time spent retaining existing donors.

There is a global tradition of giving seven thank you’s, referenced in many pieces of nonprofit literature including Janet Hendrick’s Effective Donor Relations. Some may feel that count to be too repetitive–the last thing we want to do is estrange our donor family by overwhelming them! However, consider the reality that we are living in an explosive, digital age. A symptom of this existence is information overload. Effectively sending messages that stick, requires punctuality and repetition. Don’t give donors the time to forget that they gave, or, (worse yet) forget where they gave to! Time is of the essence to validate your brand image.

At Hopsie, we take the middle road, and recommend three thank you’s (this is a mandatory minimum). Repetition is necessary. Let your donors know how much their contribution means to your organization. The nonprofit industry understands and motivates the individual’s civic duty to philanthropy. Inspiring individuals on a global scale to acquire a similar outlook may very well rely on the sincerity of our stewardship. Done thoughtfully, a culture of loyalty and relationship can be established by your organization. Here are some examples to get you started:

1. Thank-a-Thon Set up a conversation! Surprise your supporters and add a personal touch with an appreciative phone call during a company wide Thank-A-Thon. Demonstrate your acknowledgment of the importance of their donation and consideration to your cause by offering the same with: your time, a personal phone call & your sincere thanks.

2. Video Story Telling Video story telling is an extremely useful tool to emotionally engage your donors. Emotional motivators = action. Include an video thank you from your team or the community you are impacting. If your organization is unable to dedicate the time or resources to make a video to your standards, try including an informational video link in your thank you email!

3. Personalized Emails Send out emails that have the donors’ name and donation amount and thank them sincerely. Be transparent about their gift’s activity. For example: When thanking “Jonathan Smith” for his gift of “$45.00”, you can use transparency to show them all of the meaningful ways that his gift can be invested within the organization to further the mission you both believe in.

4. Direct Mail Post cards, handwritten letters & thank you cards are examples of amazing tools that personalize your acknowledgement. Although this isn’t exactly the practical route for all organizations, because of the associated costs, it is definitely a suggested method for retaining larger donors.

5. Social Media Acknowledgement Thanking your donors using various forms of social media is another way to boost donor engagement. Social media is a way to recognize and thank your donors as well as expand your brand visibility to potential future donors. And…who doesn’t appreciate a good Facebook shoutout?

6. Invitation to an Event An invitation to an event is an excellent way to engage donors! Involving donors with your cause (outside of their wallet) gives them an alternative way to contribute to your mission. Invite donors to a PR events, facility tours, mission trips, marathons and other fundraising ventures etc.

7. Phone Call from the Organization Your team are your front line advocates for your cause, fully versed in the ins and outs of the organization. Your team members stories and correspondence provides personal reasons for affiliation and service. If you are unable to host a large scale phone blast such as a Thank-A-Thon, have your director or CEO out to speak to corporate or large scale donors to relay appreciation.

By no means should you limit yourself to this list. Your organization is unique and you should let your brand personality should shine through!

Get Creative! Be Sincere! Be Great! Be Thankful.