[FREE IMAGES] 6 Creative Ways to Thank Donors on National Philanthropy Day

Does your nonprofit celebrate National Philanthropy Day? If not, consider it. If you do, how?

This holiday can become yet another opportunity to connect and share joy with donors in this socially distanced season, showing them appreciation and good stewardship of their planned giving dollars. 

Donors deserve it. They’re a loyal bunch. A Giving USA Foundation special report found that more than 50% of its planned giving donors had long histories—over 20 years—with the organizations that they made planned gifts to. Seven percent said their annual gifts increased after making a planned gift.

First, the backstory …

Founded in 1986 after 40 trips to Washington, D.C., and 4,000 letters by lawyer Doug Freeman, National Philanthropy Day encourages people to recognize the impact of philanthropic contributions on the world. Many nonprofits use the day to honor charitable-minded companies, foundations and individuals.

This year, it falls on Sunday, November 15.

Here are 6 ways to connect with donors on (or around) National Philanthropy Day.

1. Use These Free Social Images

We created these images, with you in mind, to post on your organization’s social media channels. Simply save and post with tailored copy. For sample social posts and more, check out the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ National Philanthropy Day Toolkit.

Images for Instagram:

Images for everything else:

2. Coordinate a Thank-a-Thon

Divide donors into mini lists and recruit volunteers (staff and board members, for example) to make thank-you and check-in phone calls. Provide a loose script for callers to follow. Prep them with the gift type each donor gave for context and tips to:

  • Set aside a half-hour or hour each day to complete calls
  • Not sound like they’re reading from a script
  • Engage with donors authentically
  • Be sensitive to any feelings about loneliness or worries about current events, the pandemic, fewer daylight hours and seasonal affective disorder
  • Take notes on uplifting stories or donors’ life events to share with the planned giving team

Script idea:

“Hi, Joe! This is Jane from XYZ Nonprofit. How are you?

“I wanted to let you know that we’re thinking about you today—on National Philanthropy Day. Maybe you have or haven’t heard about it.

“What’s important is that it means a lot to us here because we get to thank you for your support and the legacy you’ve created at XYZ Nonprofit with your estate gift. Would you like to hear some of the things we’ve accomplished because of legacy gifts like yours?”    

TIP: Encourage those making phone calls to follow up with your team about inspiring donor stories or other donor news. These stories or news bits might make for a good donor profile or use in planned giving marketing materials or other outreach, with permission from the donor, of course.

3. Text Donors

For a quick, on-the-go thank-you, try a text. You can send a group text message as individual threads for one-on-one personal outreach, and to avoid giving out donors’ private contact information. MessageDesk is one app that lets you send and receive responses individually. A text example:

“Today, on National Philanthropy Day, we want you to know how much we appreciate your estate gift. Couldn’t do this work without you!”

4. Mail a Thank-You Card That Demonstrates Impact

Combine warm fuzzies with hard data to reaffirm gratitude and impact to date. A copy idea:

“Your gift will make a difference to us—and to them.

“Thank you for making a gift to XYZ Nonprofit in your estate plan. Other forward-thinking gifts like yours have already made such a difference. For example, we’ve been able to [insert short impact statement copy]. We’ve also ]insert another short impact statement].

“We couldn’t do it without you. Our ability to make an impact on future generations looks brighter because of your thoughtful planning.”

5. Send a Thank-You Coupon or I.O.U.

We can’t host cheerful luncheons or gratitude-filled tours, or even meet one-on-one without a smile-disguising mask, so we’ve had to switch to virtual thank-yous. On National Philanthropy Day …

Mail a coupon

If your donors live locally or you already have relationships set up regionally, partner with a local business, like a coffee shop or bakery, to offer a free thank-you item (cookie or cup of coffee, for example) in honor of National Philanthropy Day. Donors can go in, if able, to get their treat, or you can deliver the item, or have it delivered, to donors’ doors. A donor might even choose to pass the gift on to someone else, extending your nonprofit’s name and awareness to more people.

Zazzle offers online coupon postcard templates. Canva also offers easy-to-design templates or customizable features; many are half off for the holidays.

Send an I.O.U.

Here are free downloadable templates or create your own, “owing” donors a “wonderful afternoon to celebrate you and the legacy you created at XYZ Nonprofit” when you can meet in person for a thank-you gathering and mission-impact update.

6. Share a Video Thank-You

You may already have an appropriate thank-you/gratitude video that you can send to donors via email and post to your social channels. Tailor it to National Philanthropy Day with a short intro, explaining why you’re sending it to them today. 

In the market for a new video idea? Check out our client, SmileTrain, to see how concisely they connected donors’ gifts with resulting impact.

BONUS: Snapshot Ideas to Spur Other Thoughts

These are ideas to get you thinking about fun, creative ways to reach out to donors on National Philanthropy Day. Modify the words and design to make them your own, and send in enough time to arrive on or near the date of the day.

(This last idea works for any time through Thanksgiving.)

How are you celebrating?

Any other online or in-person ways to creatively celebrate donors on National Philanthropy Day and throughout the year?         

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