gratitude calendar

We’ve all heard the data. Today’s donors feel a lack of connection to nonprofits and because of this are giving less than in years past.

But what’s causing the disconnect?

To track it down, start by looking at how your organization shows gratitude to donors. Showing gratitude is something we’ve been taught since grade school, yet we often get caught up in the madness and forget how far a simple “thank you” can go.

Read on to learn some key questions to ask yourself when planning your gratitude outreach for the year. Also, stick around to the end for a gratitude calendar you can use to help implement these ideas.

1. When was the last time you changed your thank-you letter?

We get it, this may not seem like a huge deal. But a well-written thank-you letter can go a long way.

Make it a goal to rewrite or edit all general thank-you letters with a focus on being grateful and donor-centric. It’s not, “Thank you for your $75 gift.” It is, “Because you cared …” or “You helped …”

Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, have a gratitude letter in place for every giving situation, including, but not limited to: memorials and tributes, in-kind donations, monthly sustainers, stock, corporate gifts, and foundations and grants.

2. Have you set a timeline for acknowledgements?

Ever find yourself waiting and waiting for that signature, only to delay getting the acknowledgement letter out the door?

For your general core donors, don’t stress about this. If needed, create a letter from you or a program staff person that won’t hold up the process of waiting for signatures. The goal is to aim for a 24-48-hour turnaround after receiving a gift.

3. How do you share the impact of your donor’s gift?

Sharing the impact that donors are making will help form a connection. Look at your bandwidth and see how to add an impact letter every month or quarter. It can even be as simple as making a video on your phone and emailing it out once a month.

4. When was the last time you invited them to an event?

Events are a great way to make donors feel included and connected to your organization. You can have general events or targeted events for specific levels of donors. A simple tour of your facility is a great way to include smaller donors in your events program.

5. How often are you pouring gratitude over your donors?

Look for a group of board members, development committee members or even volunteers who can make monthly thank you calls. Overall, you want to be in front of all your donors every month.

6. Are you remembering your reactivated donors?

Everyone is concerned with retaining new donors and securing a second gift. You should have the same concern for the reactivated lapsed donor. See how you can add a postcard to your internal lineup to new and reactivated donors with a message like, “You made amazing things happen,” or “You saved my life.” You can add any monthly sustainers once a quarter to your distribution.

Tools you can use

Are you overwhelmed yet? Don’t worry, we hear you. Gratitude is scalable and attainable for any organization, no matter the size. Any incremental change in your current gratitude program should be considered a win!

Remember, your available resources are a key element to any gratitude plan. Look at your labor pool and determine the frequency of distribution and which communication channels are feasible for your organization. The most important thing to remember about donor engagement is that you can’t lump it in with your direct-response fundraising communications.

Want to add these ideas to your existing gratitude calendar? We’ve created an editable gratitude calendar that you can copy and customize to your needs.