Effective ways to thank online donors

It's hard to deny the benefits of online giving platforms, which make donations easier than ever - all it takes are a few clicks and inputting information into a form.

Cultivating the return of that support, however, can be tricky. According to Bloomerang, 60 percent of new supporters donate only once. When it comes to donor retention, the virtual character of online giving establishes some challenges for nonprofits. These obstacles are easy to combat if an organization is diligent in reaching out to its supporters.

The best way to do this is through sincere, concrete thanks. From the moment nonprofits accept online donations, gratitude should be a continual endeavor. Instead of seeing appreciation as a formality, nonprofits can shift the framework to a more personal one. After all, donors enable the success of a charitable mission, noted Nonprofit Hub's Nick Small. 

Nonprofit fundraisers invest a lot of time and care into soliciting donations. It's crucial they put forth just as much effort, if not more, into thanking the kind supporters who contribute. If donors are going to stick around, they need to know how much they matter. Without their help, a nonprofit can't achieve its goals.

Contrary to the impersonality of a business letter, here are some ways to offer meaningful thanks to online donors:

Tailor the response
Donors know a standardized thank-you letter requires little effort, reminded Randy Hawthorne, Executive Director of Nonprofit Hub. Keeping the focus on the individual means trading impersonal form letters for kind, handwritten cards. Crafting personalized thanks also gives an opportunity to learn more about the donor, which can help frame future appeals for funds.

Be transparent
Thank-you letters should include mention of a gift's outcome, as well as how the money was spent. Transparency builds trust and gives concrete proof to supporters that their contributions made a difference, two tenets that are key to retaining donors.

Include an RSVP
Thank-you notes can double as calls for further involvement with the organization. Including an invitation to a future event, such as a year-end party or recognition dinner, is a way to include donors in the nonprofit mission. It's important that the event require no further donations - the purpose here is to recognize the supporter as a partner in social change, not a source of funds.

Solicit feedback
An in-person party also allows organizations to put a face to the name of a sponsor. It's a perfect time to ask and listen: Keeping note of a giver's experience enables nonprofits to maintain a mutually beneficial relationship, said fundraising expert Jeff Cova. Establishing donors as members of the nonprofit's team increases the likelihood of lasting loyalty. 

The Golden Rule
Above all, communication with contributors should not be limited to calls for financial support. Beyond the thank-you note, it's important to update benefactors with the latest happenings and success of a nonprofit. Keeping in touch tells donors they're important enough to be remembered, giving them a reason to give again.

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