How do you express gratitude in your donor relationships? Why is it important to say thank you to your donors? Many first-time donors avoid giving a second gift because they do not feel recognized for their contribution.
Showing your appreciation for donors is key to maintaining healthy donor relationships, and a fantastic way to do that is by sending donor gifts. Picture it this way: every time a donor gives to your nonprofit, you have the opportunity to reciprocate. Donors could give to any cause, but they chose your nonprofit. Be sure to acknowledge their generosity.
If you are running out of ways to say thank you, we’ve gathered 15 of our favorite donor gift ideas for you to implement in your donor appreciation efforts. Keep reading to discover which gift idea is right for you. Here’s an overview of what we’ll cover:
- Why are donor gifts important?
- What types of gifts should I give my donors?
- Practical donor gifts
- Custom donor gifts
- Meaningful donor gifts
Here at Kwala, we’ve seen the power that thoughtful donor gifts hold. Our graphic designers work with nonprofits all the time to create well-designed products that donors love. We’re happy to share what we’ve learned! With that, let’s dive into the basics of this donor appreciation strategy.
Why are donor gifts important?
Donor gifts are tangible ways to say thank you to those who make your mission possible. When a donor receives a gift, it is a visual representation of the gratitude your organization feels. In many ways, gifts are evidence that your organization cares.
Here are more specific reasons why your donor gifts matter:
- Donor gifts make their recipient feel acknowledged. Recognizing that a donor made an effort to give to your mission is a top reason why donor gifts are essential. A specific donor gift reminds the recipient that their contribution makes a difference.
- Donor gifts build trust. Gift-giving is foundational to creating trust within most relationships. It communicates to your donor that your nonprofit prioritizes creating a mutually-beneficial partnership with them.
- Gifts make donors feel appreciated. The goal of every donor gift is to make the recipient feel appreciated. Even smaller or less frequent gifts are useful to recognize a donor’s faithful contributions.
- Donor gifts further positive advertising. Word-of-mouth advertising is a powerful tool. When donors receive gifts, they are likely to mention it to their friends and family which translates as positive nonprofit advertising.
- Donor gifts make future contributions more likely. Ideally, a donor’s first gift is the beginning of their partnership with your nonprofit. A well-timed donor gift will keep your nonprofit top of mind when your donors consider making another contribution.
Considering these five reasons, donor gifts are an excellent tool for communicating your gratitude. But how do you know what gift to send to your generous donors? Refer to the section below to help you get started.
What types of gifts should I give my donors?
Different gifts are suitable for different individuals. Not everyone will enjoy the same gift. However, this does not mean that your gifts should be generic. On the contrary, the more specific you are in your donor gift choice, the more appreciated your donor will feel.
Creating a survey to identify donor gift preferences is a great way to determine how to thank them. Use the survey results to update your donor directory. Additionally, consider building a gift-giving system to both plan your gifts and determine what gift types suit each donor.
Size, frequency, and donation type are all relevant categories to keep in mind. For instance, you could give a branded sticker or tote bag to a first-time donor and host an event for donors who have given 10+ years to your nonprofit. When you plan ahead, it simplifies the gift-giving process and accounts for cost.
In general, there are three types of donor gifts to consider– practical gifts, customized gifts, and meaningful gifts.
Practical donor gifts
Don’t underestimate the power of a practical gift! Fancy gifts have charm, but practical, everyday gifts are an underutilized resource. Plus, they are usually more affordable for your organization to create. Let’s explore some practical gift ideas.
Aim for quality over quantity of branded materials. It’s best to give one warm, long-lasting blanket than three or four cheaper items that donors are likely to lose or dispose of. Keep in mind that gift quality communicates your nonprofit’s values.
Journals, calendars, notebooks, and pens are also smart gift options. Donors have busy lives, so giving organizational paper materials is a great way to show donor appreciation.
You can customize a journal by writing a handwritten thank you note on the first page so that when your donor opens it, they will be reminded of your gratitude.
Food or coffee
An expertly arranged citrus or fruit bowl with matching cutlery is both practical and meaningful. Or if your donor has a sweet tooth, maybe a quality dessert box would be the perfect way to say thank you.
Is your donor a tea or coffee drinker? Many people live off caffeine, so investing in a selection of tea bags or local coffee grounds is a useful gift.
Some people prefer to make memories instead of receiving items. Maybe your nonprofit serves a charming community or big city. Finding an experience that aligns with both your donors’ preferences and your mission is ideal.
For instance, maybe your nonprofit works to protect wildlife or conserve forests. Gifting a recurring donor’s family white water rafting tickets could help them celebrate the great outdoors while reminding them why nature is worthy of protection.
Custom donor gifts
Personalized donor gifts are always a good idea. If you choose a different donor gift type, it is best to include a custom aspect within the gift. When you include a personal element, it reminds your donor that their individual support matters. Let’s explore a few easily-customizable donor gifts.
Thank you note
You can never go wrong with a handwritten thank you note. These notes are great additions to every gift as well. If you need a refresher on what to include, here’s a basic checklist:
- Greeting: Greet your donor by name in a warm and friendly tone. Then, proceed to add a short and sweet personal introduction.
- Specific Appreciation: Mention how the donor’s contribution impacted your mission, and express gratitude.
- Conclusion: Wrap it up! Finish your note with a future invitation to connect. This might be a volunteer event or a donor dinner. Then wish your donor kind regards.
Follow this checklist, and your thank you note will come across as thoughtful and memorable.
Has your donor given faithfully for 5 years? 10 years? Take a moment to celebrate their incredible generosity! In your donor directory, keep detailed lists of donor-giving anniversaries so that you can take advantage of meaningful dates.
Additionally, if your donor indicates that they are experiencing a major life change, use those moments to show you care. Maybe your donor is getting married or grieving the loss of a family member. Sending flowers and a personalized note for either case is considerate.
Technology can be your friend in the donor appreciation space. Consider making a video including your beneficiaries, staff, and management thanking your donors. You could post it directly to your social media accounts and website.
The video does not need to be lengthy or expertly edited. Just be sure it’s high quality and shows your appreciation. Seeing your face helps donors visualize your gratitude.
A canvas, vase, or pottery can artistically capture your thankfulness. If your donor has a knack for creative expression, odds are that they would enjoy supporting local artists. If your organization is tied to supporting a specific town, look for art that reflects your town’s unique appeal.
Full-sized plants or seeds can be the perfect gift for a green-thumbed donor. Vegetable seeds can be a fitting metaphor for the growth your nonprofit has seen as a result of your donor’s gifts. Other seed ideas include herbal tea seeds, chef’s herb garden seeds, and even a sampler seed collection.
Photos of your beneficiaries are considerate and personal donor gifts. They invite donors to see and celebrate the good work their donation has furthered. These photos could be hung in an office or at home and act as sweet reminders of your gratitude. Consider adding a handwritten note to elevate the gift’s authenticity.
Meaningful Donor Gifts
Meaningful donor gifts highlight the big picture of your donor’s impact. These gift types may take a little bit more planning, but they show that your nonprofit goes above and beyond to thank its donors.
Parties are crowd-pleasers. Throw a gala to celebrate your donors and their families. Invite attendees to a special night to thank them. These galas could be holiday-themed, black-tie, or even virtual if your donors are out of state. Whatever theme you choose, be sure to take the time to recognize your donors at your nonprofit’s event.
Planned dinner party
Maybe your donors would prefer a more intimate setting. If you have a smaller number of donors, a dinner party might be the right move. This is a great opportunity for donors to meet one another, staff, and beneficiaries. Do some research to find out which restaurant setting would be best, and remember to consider food preferences and allergies.
Initiate a gratitude campaign on social media! This is an awesome way to recognize individual donors each day. Your thirty days of gratitude could include thoughtful social media posts and captions planned to celebrate your donors and their families. However, be sure to check if your donor prefers to remain anonymous. If this is the case, give your donor a personalized gift during your campaign.
Plan ahead and decide the criteria for properly recognizing your donors. With set standards in place, selected photos, and pre-written captions, all you need to do is set reminders to post for each day.
Create a shared space to recognize your donors. Your donor wall should be a prominent feature of your office space. Outline clear standards for your donor wall so that it’s inclusive. Consider hiring a third party to organize your wall and create an artistic, stunning centerpiece.
Recipient & donor moment
Lastly, sometimes it’s best to step aside and let your donor directly share a moment with their beneficiaries. If your nonprofit assists children in need, perhaps include a child’s handwritten note or drawing for your donor to receive. Photographs of your beneficiaries are a great addition as well.
Thanking your donors is an essential part of cultivating relationships. There are so many different ways to express your gratitude. Whether you choose a practical, meaningful, or custom donor gift, add as much specificity and personalization as possible. Timely and thoughtful gifts go a long way.
Remember to put thought behind your designs. If you need professional design help, the experts at Kwala are here to help! From t-shirts and stickers to thank-you letters, we’ve got you covered.
If you’re looking to dive deeper into donor appreciation strategies, here are some useful resources for better donor communication:
- Donor Data Management: A Quick Guide for Nonprofits. Need some tips for organizing your donor data? Explore this NPOInfo article for some practical data management pointers.
- The Busy Nonprofit’s Guide to Donor Communications. Thanking your donors is just one way to connect with them. Here is a full guide on strengthening your donor communication efforts.
- 20 Volunteer Appreciation Ideas To Foster Relationships. Need more inspiration for donor gifts? Check out these volunteer appreciation ideas that are perfect for donors, too.