Receiving a major gift is a huge deal for your nonprofit organization.
Though it is difficult to be specific on amounts (as each organization will have a different view on what is ‘major’), major gifts are generally large cash donations that give a healthy injection of capital towards your nonprofit’s fundraising campaign(s) and organizational goals.
If you want to receive future donations from the donor, you must make sure that you thank them properly.
The worst response to a major gift is to not thank the person or organization responsible at all. However, a generic and unoriginal response can also be offensive.
Below I have listed 6 original ways that you can say thank you for a major gift, and give your nonprofit organization the best chance of receiving generous future donations.
Bake it off
The personal touch matters when saying thank you. Your donor wants to know that you have recognized that it is they who have donated to your campaign.
Sending a handwritten thank you letter is a nice touch that rarely fails to go down well. However, you can increase the impact of this gesture by putting it on a delicious treat that you, or someone from your organization, have baked. You can include a picture of the donor(s) on your baked thank you, along with one of your organization showing how pleased you are to have received their major gift.
If you’re able to involve one or more of the people of the campaign your donor’s major gift has benefited, this will add an even greater level of personal resonance — picture this: some delicious, homemade treats arrive on your donors desk and the message reads:
“Dear John, thank you so much for your donation. It’s helped these autistic children to build a new music room. This means they can now have therapy sessions which will change their lives forever. They’re so happy that they’ve made you these cakes. We all offer you our thanks and hope that these cakes go just a small way to repaying your enormous act of kindness.”
You could even go a step further and host a coffee and cake morning. This will bring your donor into direct contact with the beneficiaries. This is a brilliant PR opportunity for both your donor and your organization, and it gives you an opportunity to show them just what an ongoing relationship between the two of you might look like.
Sugar, spice and something that they really like
Find out a little bit more about your donor and what they like, not just what you think that they will appreciate. Then buy them one or more of their favorite things.
This could be flowers, wine, tickets to their favorite sports team, anything really!
Speak to their assistant, secretary, or PR coordinator. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + ….
You get the picture — do your research so you know that what you are getting them will be a thank you that they’ll really appreciate..
Then include a handwritten thank you note with the gift.
You should also try to include some meaningful mementos from your organization — pictures, cuddly toys, annual reports, merchandize — anything that is likely to sit on their desk and remind them on the impact they made. You could even create a custom certificate to display in their office.
Tell a story
This involves you to get creative, but not in a way that needs to be too expensive or complicated.
Create a narrative explaining how the major gift has made a difference to your campaign, then bring it come to life by adding pictures that include the donor and show their impact.
The great thing about this is that it makes the donor part of the story. This means that they can have an emotional connection with the good that their gift has brought to your organization.
If you have a gifted artist on your team, then great. If you don’t, then this shouldn’t hold you back because there are tools such as StoryboardThat which guide you through the entire process.
Say it with video
The benefit of creating video content is that it is engaging, and it allows the donor to share it across their social media accounts.
You have many options for potential video content, like:
- Use the narrative idea of the comic strip idea I mentioned above;
- Have your organization say thank you;
- Record a thank you message from the beneficiaries of the campaign that your donor contributed to.
While you may have reservations about your ability to produce a video thank your message, you shouldn’t worry; there are many great guides available which show it’s a lot easier, quicker, and cheaper to create a great video without being an expert, than you may think!
If you are from a generation that precedes the invention of online music, there’s a chance you’ve either made or received a mixtape.
For those who have not, a mixtape was the precursor to a Spotify, SoundCloud, or YouTube playlist.
This will be a unique form of showing your gratitude because your donor may have never received a mixtape, or will not have had one for a number of years.
If you select your songs carefully and chose ones found on Spotify, SoundCloud, or YouTube, then you can also make a playlist on one of these streaming services, which will give your donor a chance to share it across their social media outlets.
If you have the facility to make a mixtape yourself, then great. If, however, you do not, then there are people who can create it for you.
You could also include a message from your organization and, most importantly, the beneficiaries. How quickly do you think your donor’s heart would melt, if the mixtape began with the people the donation helped saying thank you?
Pretty quickly I’d say.
A work of art
This is just as it sounds: decide on an image that represents your gratitude and then create a work of art that represents it.
As with some of the earlier examples I have given you, this is not about technical skill. Instead, the benefit of this is that you have created something for your donor that is completely different.
If you can get one or more of the recipients of your fundraising campaign to contribute to the painting then this is even better — it adds a further level of emotional resonance to your thank you.
You could create something large and public, like a mural or impressively sized statue, or something smaller and more private, like a painting that the donor can display in their office.
There are benefits to both the public and private work of art: the public display boosts the donor’s public image, while the private one is more intimate and personal.
There are many ways which you can say thank you for a major gift.
The important thing is that however you decide to say thank you for your major gift, make sure it has a personal touch.
Sending something that is corporate, generic, and soulless will tell your donor that you don’t value them. They in turn could then decide that they no longer value your organization, meaning that they no longer send any major gifts your way.
Make sure that you know your donor, what they enjoy and how they like to be thanked for an act of kindness: some will want a public display, some will want to keep it private. Don’t rush into a huge show of appreciation without having a good idea of whether it’s likely to be well-received.
Only once you truly know your donor, will you know how to best thank them for their major gift.