calligraphy-2658504_640Nearly all of us live very busy, activity-laden lives, full of commitments, deadlines, and a good dose of stress to go along with it. With such hectic schedules, taking the time to say please and thank you, along with other expressions of kindness and appreciation, seems to have fallen out of vogue for many.

Showing gratitude when others help us, is not just good manners, however. Taking the time to say thank you, and mean it, when someone helps us on our mission by donating to our cause is a great way to build your connection with others. It’s also been shown to improve donor retention rates. Showing your gratitude with some heartfelt thanks will also make you, and the receiver, feel great!

The following tips will help you express your thanks effectively.

Automated Responses Have Their Place

Whenever someone gives to your organisation online, they should automatically be taken to a screen that thanks them for their gift. Regardless of how your donors contribute to your cause, they should also be sent an automatic email that confirms their donation and thanks them for their gift.

Go Above and Beyond What’s Expected

Whether someone gives online or in person, your expression of gratitude will mean more if you go a step or two beyond these automated responses. Depending on your donor’s contact preferences, you should consider also saying thanks by sending a letter or a handwritten note on a card. You could also simply pick up the phone and call them. This method should always be used for donors that make substantial contributions, or that regularly give, as long as there is nothing in their preferences that indicate they would not like to receive a phone call.

Make it Personal and Meaningful

Whether you thank your donors by mail or telephone, greet them by name and use a warm, friendly tone. Rather than sending a form letter, personalise your writing with details about their donation and explain just what their gift means to your work and the people that directly benefit from it.

If you have a lot of thank you notes to send, or calls to make, don’t be afraid to draft others in your organisation to help you with this task so that you have the time to contact every donor promptly.  If you do have others help you with this task, create a template, or script of how their note or call should go. Emphasise that this is just a guideline of how to frame their letter or call, and encourage them to add details that let their personality shine through!

Follow Up

After you’ve thanked all of your donors, do keep them updated on the progress that your organisation is making, and how their donation is helping you to make things better. Consider offering public recognition for their gift by including a list of your donors in your NFP’s newsletters, using Twitter and other social media to send “shout outs” about everyone who gives to your nonprofit. You might even consider hosting a special event such as a dinner or other party for your donors to show them how much you and your NFP appreciate their support.