Years ago, I worked at a small historic house museum. The staff consisted of the executive director and me, both working part-time. We juggled the varied tasks of fundraising, leading visitors on tours of the house, caring for historic objects, and making sure the pipes didn’t freeze over weekends in the winter. It wasn’t unusual to feel overwhelmed—because we often were!
One day, my colleague fought off the list of “have to dos” and made a thank-you call to a donor. Making these calls wasn’t part of our normal acknowledgment process, but when she hung up the phone she was beaming. “That felt great!” she exclaimed. “I have to do that more often.”
I remember thinking, if making that call was such a positive experience for her, imagine how good the donor felt! Why don’t we all do these things more often?
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, set aside time to show some extra love to your donors:
- Create a brief thank-you video and send it to your donors in a Valentine’s Day email. You don’t need a professional videographer to make this happen; you can use a free tool like Animoto to mix your photos and video clips, if you have them, into an appealing video.
- Choose a group of donors, such as those who made their first gift in the last year, and place a thank-you phone call to each one. Depending on the number of donors on your list, you can ask board members, colleagues, or volunteers to help you with the calls. The calls themselves don’t need to be complicated or in-depth. Simply introduce yourself, thank them for their support, and tell them what it’s helping to accomplish. If you have any upcoming programs or events, you can mention those, too.
- Send an update to everyone who donated to your year-end appeal and let them know how their support is being put to use. Share a specific example of the impact of their donation. You can design this communication as a valentine to your donors.
- Review your past appeals. Have any of your donors responded to a specific and urgent need such as an injured animal in your care, a natural disaster, or a historic building that needed time-sensitive repairs? Send them hand-written cards letting them know how much it means that they responded to the urgent need.
- For a few extra-special donors, consider putting together a photo book of success stories for them. A service like Shutterfly makes this simple to do.
Be sure you document these interactions. If you’re using a donor management system like Little Green Light, you can create contact reports to record phone calls and other personal interactions, or create a mailing to document which donors received a Valentine’s Day mailing.
Going above and beyond with your donors will strengthen these relationships and help make your donors feel appreciated and cared for. Showing that extra love may just boost your own spirits, too!