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Thank Supporters at the End of the Year: Three Ideas for Nonprofits

December 8, 2023

As you wind down for the year, it’s time to talk about how to thank your supporters. As a nonprofit, you’ve done some impactful work this year — that should be celebrated one more time (and from the rooftops!). In addition, you’ve likely had incredible support from donors and volunteers — they should be thanked one more time (and from the rooftops!). Here are a few ideas for how to tie up your message for the year — for organizations and budgets both big and small.

 

Idea #1: Say Thank You to Donors, Volunteers and Others

If you have time for nothing else this month, be sure to reach out to those who have been active with your nonprofit. The list of people to thank and/or contact may include:

  • Donors who have supported you financially
  • Volunteers who have given their time and talent
  • People impacted by your organization — for example, for a museum this may be members or families of children who attended your summer camps. For a foundation that supports the families of medically fragile children, this may be the families who the organization served this year. Reach out to these people and thank them for being a part of your family—they’re the reason you exist after all.

Caption: In 2019, the Equal Justice Initiative posted a photo of their team with a word of thanks and link to a longer letter about what they had planned for 2020.

 

When it comes to how you reach out to these people, there are lots of options based on how much time and budget you can allocate.

  • Write a letter and/or mail a card from your team. Read the Equal Justice Initiative’s letter they posted on their website for the end of 2022 here.
  • A post on your social accounts. This post could be a video from a leader of your organization or a highlight reel (video or photos) of impactful moments from the year.

 

If possible, include some statistics in the message that illustrate how volunteers’ and donors’ involvement in the nonprofit made a difference. For example:

  • $x raised went to the creation of a new after-school program for students.
  • Thanks to your support, x families were supported with money to pay rent and buy groceries this year.
  • We opened our doors to x people this year — a x% increase from last year!

 

Bonus suggestion: If making personal phone calls to donors, consider prioritizing those who gave what they could — $5, $10, $20 donations. You’ve likely already reached out to thank mega donors and the small donations may be coming from some of your most ardent volunteers/vocal supporters.

 

 

Idea #2: Highlight Major Moments or Milestones From the Year

Are there a handful of major moments or events from the year that you’d like people to remember one more time? Maybe you celebrated an anniversary, opened a new location or hosted a special event. Gather up a few of these along with photos from the event and share them in a series of social media posts. If you have video footage and the resources to write a script, create a video to be sent via email, shown at a large gathering and/or posted on social media.

 

If your nonprofit is a large organization with many different departments or areas of service, reach out to team members throughout the organization and ask for their input. What good was accomplished in their area specifically? This can help you create a whole picture of the impact made by your organization. Plus, you may hear some incredible stories you didn’t know! Ask for stories, facts and figures and be amazed at what people send in!

Below are three examples of highlights the International Justice Mission shared last year on social media. 

 

 

Idea #3: Share a Story of Real Impact With Your Entire Contact List

You’ve likely sent out something to your entire contact list reminding them of end-of-year giving opportunities, so it’s important to also send everyone a thank you/reminder of the good you are doing. Personal stories of impact are powerful, which is why we highly recommend finding and using one this year. Once found, this story could be shared through a letter, a video interview, or a postcard that includes a photo and short description.

 

Caption: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital regularly shares stories of patients to remind people of the real difference they make when supporting the organization. (See the full Instagram post here.)

 

Finally, A Few Basic Tips

Finally, here are a few basic tips to consider in your end-of-year messages.

  • Personalize where you can — handwritten notes stand out, personal phone calls are rare, and using someone’s name in an email instead of a generalized greeting is always a good idea. Anywhere you can make the extra effort is impactful.
  • Include a forecast for the new year — give a hint of what’s coming next and how their support will continue to do good in the new year. Help people get excited for what’s to come!
  • Thank people in both online and offline ways.
  • If it’s impossible to wrap up your messages in December, include a summary in a letter or message sent with the year’s tax statement in January.
  • If you have a newsletter, thank your volunteers or certain donors publicly (only if they give permission though) by highlighting them under a Donor Corner or Volunteer Section. Some people feel special with public facing accolades.

Caption: In their fall newsletter, the Methodist Children’s Home included a page of thanks to supporters.

 

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The Cause Agency is a non-profit marketing agency working for non-profits. Whether your organization is looking to up your marketing or PR efforts, rebrand or get more creative on social media, our team is here to help. Reach out to us on our website or call us at 817-335-0100.