No matter how dedicated and supportive your donors have been, the worst thing you can do is consider them a “done deal.” Your donors have the freedom to champion any cause they’d like, but they’ve chosen to believe in you and support the work that you do. For that fact alone, you should never stop showing your appreciation.
Here are a few things you can do in your next fundraising letter to let your donors know just how important they are to your cause:
Keep it personal. Nothing makes a person feel like you're talking to him and only him quite like...using his name. "Dear Donor," "Dear Friend," and "Dear Neighbor" sound nice, but they also sound like you don't know or don't care who you've sent your letter to. By personalizing your letter -- using your donor's name, using specific ask amounts, and referencing past donations he’s made -- you'll make your donor feel like you're specifically reaching out to him, and not just putting another letter in the mail.
Say thank you. Doesn't it drive you crazy when you hold the door for someone and she walks by without saying a word? Not even the tiniest acknowledgment that you went out of your way to help her out. It might even make you think twice before holding the next door. It is crucial that you thank your donors for their support and acknowledge the importance of their participation in your cause. Thank your donors for each and every gift and let them know that you can't do it without them. Otherwise, the next time they may let the door slam in your face.
Show your donors their gifts at work. If you truly want your donors to feel that their donation has a positive impact -- and will continue to have a positive impact -- you need to connect their gift with specific goals related to your cause. Tell your donors what their generous gift helped accomplish -- where it went, who it helped and how -- and that whether they’ve contributed $5 or $500, they are heroes to you and to those your cause is helping. Your donors need to know that their contributions actually matter to you and your cause and aren’t just disappearing into thin air.
Ask for your donors’ opinion. Asking your donors for their advice or opinion about your cause or how you’re doing is never a bad thing. That’s because asking your donors how they feel makes them feel like a valuable member of your team instead of just a source of funding. An added bonus? Your donors might just give you some suggestions that you can use to strengthen your cause. So don’t miss an opportunity to make your donors feel important and receive valuable feedback from your loyal supporters. Petitions and surveys are a great way interact with your donors and invite them to offer their opinions and advice on how to move forward with your cause.
Treat donors with respect. This should go without saying: if you don’t treat your donors with respect, your donors aren’t going to donate. Demanding appeals, bossiness, and being vague about where their contributions are going all come off as arrogance. Who wants to make a gift to someone who expects it? Especially if he can’t be bothered to tell you where your hard-earned money is going. A respectful fundraising letter recognizes that nothing is possible without the help of your donor. It invites the donor to “take part in this opportunity” or “join me in our fight,” instead of demanding him to send money. And it never misleads, avoids, or tricks the donor about where his donation is going (NEVER assume you can spend a donor’s money better than he can).
Remember: a great relationship is a two-way street. Appreciate your donors -- tell them how much you rely on their help to make a positive impact in the world -- and your donors will reward you with their continued support and dedication.