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‘Tis the Season to Thank the Board

Here we are in the days before Christmas. Staff party is all set. Hanukkah is happening for those of us of the Jewish faith. We have gifts for the mailman, the paperboy, the person who cuts our hair.

How about the Board? Some of us are lucky and have a Board member or three who send special treats for the staff to share. Now it’s time (hopefully not too late!) to return the favor and send a thoughtful something to our Board members. Thanking them for their service.
It could be something as simple as a greeting card. No doubt that will be appreciated. But maybe we can do something a bit more. We could get a few bud vases and deliver a small arrangement to members’ homes. We could invite Board members to our staff party. We could host an end-of-day reception just for them.

Something to let our leading volunteers to know they are appreciated.
Is there time do do something?

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Thank Your Donors

You have been back in the office now for 3+ weeks since Christmas. This is a good time to take a few moments to gather the troops and discuss “Are we doing a good job thanking our donors?”
Talking it over with staff as well as your development committee helps get ideas on the table. Attending a session on “donor acknowledgment” at the next nonprofit conference you attend is time well spent. Learn what others are doing. Apply thanking techniques that feel right, that fit right for you and staff and volunteers who get the relationship part of fundraising. This is called “donor stewardship.”
Here are a few things for pause and reflect:
Thank all your donors.
“Tier” your thank you: post card for small gifts, letter for gifts $25+. Set tiers that make sense for your nonprofit.
Acknowledge online gifts with email.
Use appropriate stationery to acknowledge memorial gifts.
Use special thank you for special gifts from special givers. Organize a board “thankathon” (see Kay Sprinkel Grace in High Impact Philanthropy) for special/major gifts.
The important thing is to let the donor know that s/he is appreciated. That it’s more than the money. Confirm the relationship by letting the person know you remember something about him/her; how the gift will help those you serve in some specific way. Help make a link happen. Cement the bond.
I remember when I worked with the American Lung Association in New Hampshire, board members agreed to thank major donors to the Christmas Seal campaign. They called donors. The first year we did it, some donors thought we were calling for more money. Board members were coached to let donors know, “no, we just want to let you know how much we appreciate your recent gift of ___ to help fight lung disease. We are interested, if you care to share, in what inspires you to give. It helps us to know.” Well. Our donors were pleasantly surprised to get the personal touch and usually had something to tell us.
In this way, the “thank you” helps affirm the relationship. You and your team are being good stewards of your most precious asset: Those who provide the wherewithal to make the mission happen.

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Donor Stewardship in the Summertime

Each summer I write a piece about proper attention to donors. And the centerpiece of “proper” is “thank you.”

So my advice to you on this rainy New England day in mid-June is to think about proper donor acknowledgement this summer.

Start with a note. A thank you note out of the blue is always a nice touch. Unexpected, maybe on a picture postcard you have created that presents a nice image of how you are delivering your mission in your community. With a brief signed note of thanks to your donor. A personal touch, a bit out of the ordinary that will get this person’s attention.

Host an event. Depending on the mission of your nonprofit, holding a morning coffee, afternoon tea or early evening canapes with refreshing drinks reception would be well received. If you are an arts-related organization, this is very easily done and will be much appreciated. If you are an environmental or health or social service organization, finding space for this might be a bit of a challenge, but a board member might help you and co-host it at a nice spot. And having a speaker talk briefly for a few minutes on a topic of interest can add to the draw. And the event isn’t to make an appeal for another gift. It’s purely an opportunity to acknowledge donors and socialize.

House party. The latest trend is for board members to host mini parties at their homes and ask for contributions. This could be simply thank you events in a home setting, featuring light hors d’houvres and drinks of some sort and a chance for people close to the nonprofit to mix socially with donors and let them know they are appreciated.

Try this on for size. It’s an application of relationship fundraising…with a focus on the relationship.

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