Donor retention is essential to a nonprofit’s success. But when you get too wrapped up in always soliciting and securing the next donation, it’s no wonder why donors become exasperated and feel like you’re taking advantage of their generosity! So what’s the antidote? It’s just two little words: “Thank You.” Delivered sincerely and at the right moment, thanking your supporters can be the single biggest donor cultivation tool you have.

That being said, the communication of heartfelt thanks takes some effort. And while Kindful has got you covered when it comes to acknowledgement tools built right into our intuitive nonprofit CRM system, it’s still your job to convey the right message of thanks to donors. Here’s a few tips we like:

1. Dust Off the Old Ink Pen.

These days, most of us are used to communicating with donors through a digital buffer – via social media, email marketing, or the occasional blog post. While there’s definitely a place for these modern forms of communication, sometimes thanking your donors needs an old-school approach. So dig up that old pen you used for taking notes in grade school, pull out a piece of paper (please don’t make it printer paper!) and create a hand-written note of gratitude to your donor. They will love getting a real-life piece of mail personalized to them and you’ll have the satisfaction of thanking your supporters in a thoughtful way… once you get over the hand cramp, of course!

2. Now It’s Time… Take it Back Online.

We still think a handwritten note of thanks is the best way to go, but online channels work great too. Thanking a donor (especially a millennial donor) on Facebook or Twitter is a great way to connect your brand with gratitude and show your entire audience that you are truly thankful for their support in furthering your mission. Donors will feel special seeing their names online… and it’s also a subtle way to encourage them to repost your message and spread your cause even further. This thank you post will also act as a tiny beacon, inviting potential donors to get involved and get their own moment in the sun.

3. Get Creative and Go Over the Top.

Whether it’s a goofy video or homemade cookies delivered to their doorstep, nothing shows donors love better than something unique. Similar to mentions on social media, a creative act of thanks is a public declaration of gratitude and invites others to get involved… on a much grander scale that a shout-out on Twitter! Get your whole staff together, do some brainstorming, and figure out how you can thank your donors in a way that no one else can. Write a little song, do a little dance, release your inner Michael Bay with some parking lot pyrotechnics (keep it safe though, kids), and show your donors you appreciate them more than they can ever imagine.

4. Put a Bow On It.

PBS and NPR don’t give away thousands of dollars worth of swag for nothing! These pledge drive favors aren’t just a way to give back to your donors, they’re a way of saying thank you immediately following a gift. These freebies don’t have to be big (or expensive) either. Put your logo on stickers, water bottles, even the occasional dog bowl (great if you’re an animal shelter!). At our most recent event, Kindful brought a bunch of super soft branded t-shirts that flew out the door so fast we couldn’t keep the shelves stocked!

Donor cultivation and retention is central to your nonprofit’s success and the best way to make it sustainable is by thanking your donors sincerely and often. Take note of these thank-you models, and find some new tactics of your own. Your donors will appreciate your gratitude, and you might just gain some new donations in the process. Need help cultivating the right donors for lifetime investment? Check out our free guide below.