I love a good celebration.
And nothing is more worth celebrating than a holiday, and your donors!
With Groundhog Day in the rear view mirror, and Valentine’s Day on the horizon, it’s the perfect opportunity for a holiday/donor celebration mash-up!
You’ve still got time to send a little love your donors’ way!
Why might this be something for you to consider, amidst all the other “to-do’s” on your plate?
If you don’t do a lot more donor loving, you’re going to do a lot more donor losing.
I hope by now you know donor retention is the name of the game. It costs so much more to acquire a new donor than to keep an existing one. Yet too few nonprofits have serious, intentional donor stewardship programs in place. Because of that, on average, nonprofits lose nearly 8 out of 10 first-time donors and close to 6 out of 10 of all donors.
Don’t be one of those organizations!
If donors only hear from you when you want something from them, they’re not likely to give more. Or even give again.
Be generous! Show donors how much their support means to you.
Really, donor love should be like breathing for you. In and out. Out and in.
- They love you, and show you.
- You love them, and show them.
You’ll be amazed at how a little love can go a long way.
This year why not dedicate Valentine’s Day to giving, not asking?
If you can’t send valentines to every donor, pick a segment or two.
Think about those donors for whom you’d like to show some special love, because they showed you some. Show them you noticed! They could be:
- Major donors.
- Monthly donors.
- Donors who’ve given faithfully for five years or more.
- Donors who increased their giving this year.
- First-time donors of $100+.
- Donors who also volunteer.
- Board and committee members.
Pick your donors; then pick a stewardship strategy… and go!
8 Cool Valentine’s to Celebrate Your Donors
Channel your inner second-grader and cut out a big colorful construction paper heart. Write a warm hand-written message (e.g., “We all love you, will you be our Valentine?” or “You have the biggest heart. XO”). Insert your Valentine into a colorful envelope that will get noticed in your donor’s mailbox. Shanon Doolittle shows you how to do it in this Movie Mondays video. If you happen to have clients who benefit from your donor’s gifts (e.g., actual second-graders, or even animals!), consider asking them to help make these valentines. Again, you don’t have to do this with every donor, but pick those for whom it will matter.
Host a Valentine’s Day “Loveathon.” Ask board members or volunteers to come together to phone a subset of your donors to let them know how much they are loved. [If you have younger donors you can text them]. Your message can be super simple (suitable for leaving a quick message if you don’t reach someone): “I’m Claire, calling from XYZ Nonprofit, just to let you know we’re thinking of you fondly today because you have such a big heart. Your support means so much. Happy Valentine’s Day!” Give valentines to your volunteers while you’re at it – you know, heart-shaped cookies, pink punch, chocolate kisses and maybe some festive red, white and pink balloons with love notes attached. Make it a “feel good” party for your volunteers!
- Make some spontaneous phone calls. If you don’t have time to organize a group phonathon, you can still make a bunch of calls yourself (or with a team of your staff) to a targeted group of supporters.
- Create a YouTube or Vimeo video to send your special donors some love. Charity: Water created a bunch of amazing, super-fun and super-personal YouTube videos on the occasion of their fifth birthday. Plus here’s one they did on Valentine’s Day on Vimeo. The Boys and Girls Club of Maury County sent this awesome email plus YouTube video valentine.
Borrow from them, and create one or two awesome Valentine videos to send your special donors. It’s so inexpensive now to create shareable video; anyone with a smart phone can make one.
Post a Valentine’s Day card, with a photo showing your donor’s impact, on your website. Share it with your supporters via your e-newsletter, blog, Pinterest or Instagram board and/or other social media. Here are examples from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Humane Society; Amnesty International and Second Harvest Food Bank. The Sierra Club put this valentine on their donor landing page as a fundraising campaign, but you could easily do something like this purely as a donor thank you.
Tweet out a Valentine’s message or post a card to Facebook. Make it visual. Here are examples from Nonprofit Center and The Children’s Village and you can find a number of other valentine tweets here [they aren’t all appropriate, but you’ll find some good ones you can steal from].
Send Valentine’s cards via email. It’s best if you can make your own visual, preferably with a nod to your mission. However if time is getting away from you, you can always grab one from some of the free online card services like 123 greetings, american greetings or blue mountain [I’m not endorsing any particular service]. After all, it’s the thought that counts. Next year you can make your own.
Deliver a token gift from the heart. I like to bake, so sometimes I gave select donors home-made cookies. One development director I know brings home-made truffles. I know someone else who likes to can fruit, so she brings little jars of jam. Perhaps you have tons of fruit or vegetables in your yard? Bring a basket full tied up with a red, pink or white lace ribbon. The goal is not to spend a lot of money, but to show someone they’re in your thoughts. If you work for an organization that operates a café, or has performances or offers tours you can include a coupon with your notes and greeting cards. Or you could even create your own “love coupon” where, rather than promising a kiss, a massage, or a night washing the dishes, you offer a big hug and a promise to fight your good fight! If you want gifts, it’s nice to also give them.
Want some additional inspiration? Check out my Pinterest boards: Gratitude – Nonprofits Say Thanks and Zee Happy Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day is a terrible day to waste!
Keep Donor Love Flowing all Year to Keep More Donors!
Get my Attitude of Gratitude Donor Guide if you really want to develop an organization-wide culture of showing your donors some love. It includes my Creative Ways to Thank Your Donors e-book, which you can also purchase separately if you just want some more quick inspiration.
As with all Clairification products, these guides come with my 30-day, no-questions-asked, 100% refund guarantee. You can’t lose. So… why not send a little more donor love this year?
I guarantee you, and your supporters, will be happy you did!
Images courtesy of Pinterest, Freedigitalphotos.net and Flickr
A version of this article appeared originally on Clairification February 9, 2016