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How to Give Back to Your Donors (and Why You Should)

back to your donors

How to Give Back to Your Donors (and Why You Should)

Donors are the backbone of your organization and, whether they give a little or a lot, each one deserves acknowledgement and appreciation. However, while many organizations have begun working harder on how they say “thank you,” many more are still lost when it comes to how they should give back to donors. 

Just as giving a gift to a friend helps brighten their day and make them feel appreciated, even a small gift can do the same thing for your donors. Obviously, they’re giving and expecting nothing in return, so surprising them with a token of appreciation will really help transform the average donor into a full-fledged goodwill ambassador for your projects. As such, you should definitely work gifts into your recognition strategy. 

Use “Thank You” Gifts to Give Back to Donors

“Thank you” gifts are, by far, the most popular form of donor gifts. Donors receive these when they make a donation of a certain amount or become a recurring donor. This one-off gift can bring about many benefits. Aside from being a tangible thank-you, receiving a “thank you” gift can also make a donor feel like they’re joining something exclusive, which is a great way to promote recurring donations.

If you want to utilize that feeling of exclusivity to your advantage, you should advertise the “thank you” gift and make it something truly unique. This could be as simple as a mug or tote bag. If you’d really like to wow donors, ocnsider an entire gift basket filled with branded swag and perhaps chocolate. These gifts will then have another bonus function of increasing awareness anytime someone sees your logo on the tote, shirt, hat, or whatever other items you send out.

After the initial “thank you” gift, you might also including something like a members-only magazine subscription with their recurring donation. This is something you’ll repeatedly send out (perhaps monthly or quarterly) and it will further reinforce the impact of their donation while also acting as a continuous reason to keep giving so that they can keep getting the magazine. Additionally, it adds to that exclusive feel. 

How to Utilize Front-End Premiums

“Thank you” gifts are a great way to who donors appreciation after they give. Many organizations use front-end premiums, however, to help inspire people to give. This is based on the simple principle of reciprocity. Since you’re giving something to the recipient, they often feel inclined to give something back. Charities use this method frequently. Of course, the gift must remain small to ensure it turns a profit in the end.

Custom address labels or stickers branded with your logo and the recipient’s details are a popular example. Ofyou can also get more creative. Think about a small calendar, notepad, a bookmark, a pen or pencil set, buttons, or even a set of greeting cards that they can use to write their correspondence. The idea is to give them something branded and functional, so that they will use it and ultimately think of your organization when they do.

Of course, you cannot utilize front-end premiums when it comes to online gifting. However, if you continue to use traditional “snail mail” alongside digital appeals, you may find that front-end premiums work well for you. 

Give Back to Donors with Seasonal Gifts

If you’d really like to give back to your donors, many organizations have transitioned to a surprise gift model. This doesn’t mean you can’t still use front-end premiums and even thank you gifts to encourage donations. Sending a surprise gift, however, makes donors feel truly appreciated. 

Rather than advertising these gifts, you send them out at certain times of the year (especially during the holiday season) to remind donors that you truly appreciate their support. These gifts can be as large or small as you wish, but you should focus on finding a gift that donors will appreciate. 

Other Ways to Give Back

You can certainly work in material gifts as an effective strategy for appreciating donors. There are also other ways to give back, though, that can prove even more impactful.

For instance, just providing a unique experience for your donors can be enough for them to feel included. In fact, they often feel like part of an exclusive club. Art museums specialize in this type of appreciation gift by offering exclusive tours for donors. They  show these donors a behind-the-scenes look at artist studios and works not yet on public display. Zoos offer something similar. They allow donors to come in small groups for hands-on tours with the animals they love so much to support. 

Your organization can surely find a way to offer a unique experience along these same lines. Of course, you’ll want to reserve that experience for high-end donors who give often or give large gifts. One-of-a-kind experiences can really help make an event that donors will remember. Even if it’s a celebratory party thrown once a year, it’s appreciated. In between those events, you still have some work to do. Invest in basic follow-up and engagement efforts that don’t involve a lot of time or money. For instance, just shouting donors out on social media every so often will help them feel appreciated.

At the end of the day, the methods you use don’t matter all that much. Just make sure your main focus is on ensuring donors know that you truly need them. By providing recognition of their importance, you’ll ensure you have happy donors.

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