Do you remember the last time someone genuinely thanked you?

There’s a marked difference between sincere gratitude and the automated, perfunctory “thank yous” we so often exchange in conventional conversation.

“‘Preciate it”. A mumbled “Thanks”. A hurried “Thank you”.

Recognizing that our social responsibilities are somewhat relative, we know that the gifts from our donors are a privilege. Without mandate, we can only speculate why our donors support our cause. Whatever the reason may be, it must be a priority of an organization to truly thank these special individuals who have taken the initiative to act. When done correctly, the potential to maximize on the resulting social capital is exponential.

The way we choose to express our gratitude sends a message to our recipient. For example, larger donors and corporate supporters are often given distinct attention from organizations. But isn’t every little gift incredibly important? Every potential donor relationship is more valuable than the immediate value of the gift, because of the potential future value. Relationship building with your donors is the opportunity to turn a goodwill transaction into a goodwill alliance.

Approximately 65% of givers will donate to your organization only once, while 80% would have given a second time had they been engaged properly. Considering the gravity of this data, why not use your “thank you” as the first step towards donor retention and rapport? The execution of a well-constructed “thank you” is an irreplaceable marketing tool and relationship builder for your nonprofit. “Thank You” emails have a 30% increase in open and click-through rates over marketing emails. This is one of the reasons Hopsie recommends that you refrain from requesting donations in “Thank You” emaild — to fully benefit from the subtle brand establishment of appreciation.

Personalized Thank Yous help establish relationships, which can then lead to donor retention, and donor retention is key to your organizations ROI. It costs approximately five times more to acquire new donors than to maintain your existing donors!

There is a global tradition of giving seven Thank Yous, referenced in many pieces of nonprofit literature including Janet Hendrick’s Effective Donor Relations. Some may feel that count to be too repetitive–the last thing we want to do is estrange our donor family by overwhelming them. However, consider the reality that we are living in an explosive, digital age. A symptom of this existence is information overload. Effectively sending messages that stick requires punctuality and repetition. Don’t give donors the time to forget that they gave, or, worse yet, forget to whom they gave! Time is of the essence when validating your brand image.

At Hopsie, we take the middle road and recommend three Thank Yous (this is a mandatory minimum). Repetition is necessary. Let your donors know how much their contribution means to your organization. The nonprofit industry understands and motivates the individual’s civic duty to philanthropy. Inspiring individuals on a global scale to acquire a similar outlook may very well rely on the sincerity of our stewardship. Done thoughtfully, a culture of loyalty can be established by your organization. Here are some examples to get you started:

1. Thank-a-Thon Set up a conversation. Surprise your supporters and add a personal touch with an appreciative phone call during a company wide Thank-A-Thon. Demonstrate your acknowledgment of the importance of their donation and consideration to your cause by offering the same with your time, a personal phone call, and your sincere thanks.

2. Video Storytelling Video storytelling is an extremely useful tool to emotionally engage your donors. Emotional motivators = action. Include an video thank you from your team or the community you are impacting. If your organization is unable to dedicate the time or resources to make a video to your standards, try including an informational video link in your thank you email.

3. Personalized Emails Send out emails that have the donor’s name and donation amount and thank them sincerely. Be transparent about their gift’s activity. For example: When thanking “Jonathan Smith” for his gift of “$45.00,” you can show him all of the meaningful ways that his gift can be invested within the organization to further the mission you both believe in.

4. Direct Mail Post cards, handwritten letters, and thank you cards are examples of amazing tools that personalize your acknowledgment. Although this isn’t exactly the practical route for all organizations because of the associated costs, it is definitely a suggested method for retaining larger donors.

5. Social Media Acknowledgement Thanking your donors using various forms of social media is another way to boost donor engagement. Social media is a way to recognize and thank your donors as well as expand your brand visibility to potential future donors. And who doesn’t appreciate a good Facebook shoutout?

6. Invitation to an Event An invitation to an event is an excellent way to engage donors. Involving donors with your cause (outside of their wallet) gives them an alternative way to contribute to your mission. Invite donors to PR events, facility tours, mission trips, marathons, and other fundraising ventures.

7. Phone Call from the Organization Your team is your front line advocate for your cause, fully versed in the ins-and-outs of the organization. Your team members’ stories and correspondence provide personal reasons for affiliation and service. If you are unable to host a large scale phone blast such as a Thank-A-Thon, have your director or CEO speak to corporate or large scale donors to relay appreciation.

By no means should you limit yourself to this list. Your organization is unique, and you should let your brand personality shine through!

Get Creative! Be Sincere! Be Great! Be Thankful.