The Big Thank You for Non-Profits: Five Ways to Show Appreciation

Volunteers. Donors. Staff members. They’re all wholly intrinsic elements of any and all non-profit organization. Whether they help plan fundraising events, write big checks or simply aid a cause by helping to spread the word about all the great things it’s accomplishing, their support is what makes a non-profit grow and thrive.

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As 2014 starts to reach its end, now is the time many organizations take the opportunity to send out a “thank you” to all the individuals who aided in a year of (hopeful) success. But this time around, forego the standard form letter or group email and set a more personal tone that conveys your truest appreciation. Here are five creative ways to do just that.

1. Send a Card
A handwritten card, customized to the recipient, is far better than a standard form letter. Reserve them for your biggest and best supporters and donors, and don’t include anything like an end-of-year financial statement or fundraising dollar breakdown. And absolutely don’t use the note as an “ask” for another donation—keep it completely personal, like something you’d send to an old friend. You can always mail the aforementioned financial documents and an end-of-the-year pledge appeal under separate cover.

2. Go Video
It’s already been shown that video makes a stronger impact than other forms of communication in our increasingly on-line world. So consider putting together a short (less than a minute) presentation that you can post to YouTube and other social media channels and leverage on your blog and website. Through video you can truly illustrate to your donors and volunteers the impact they’ve had and continue to have, and do so in a casual and personable way.

3. Give a Gift
Whether it’s a book, calendar or even a framed picture of your staff and organization in action, a gift is a wonderful way to show sincere appreciation. It may be cost prohibitive depending on what you choose to send, so it’s okay to reserve a gift for your only largest donors or most dedicated volunteers.

4. Throw a Party
It could be as simple as a wine and cheese gathering around happy hour, dinner buffet at a staff member’s home or a feast of desserts at a local event hall or restaurant. Regardless of what type of party you choose to throw, bringing your supporters together for face-to-face interaction builds a sense of community and loyalty and demonstrates the connection to your cause that everyone shares. And parties are a great way to roll out ideas for the next year, such as new fundraising drive. But be careful and remember this is an appreciation gathering: don’t make a pitch for last minute donations or the like.

5. Pick up the Phone
A personal phone call to a small list of your biggest supporters is a great way to show how much you care. Keep the conversation short, be sincere and speak to them as a friend. But as with the party of personal thank you note, don’t use the call as an opportunity to solicit a donation.

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