Donor development can be an overwhelming process. The job of cultivating donors, engaging target audiences, building personal relationships and determining the proper timing of "the ask" are all crucial to achieving fundraising success. With each multi-layered step, it’s easy to lose sight of the single-most important part of donor retention: expressing your gratitude.
Gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful or the "readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness". This is an important concept that takes a central role in fundraising, but can sometimes get glossed over when the focus falls too heavily on numbers and figures.
Being a grateful recipient shows your charity cares - not only about the mission at hand, but about the people who make it possible. Donors are people, not numbers. They want to feel appreciated for their contribution and reassured that their money matters. Whether they give $5 or $50,000, every gift is a reason to extend gratitude.
Following are five ways gratitude can help you develop and strengthen your donor relationships:
1. Make gratitude the priority
Whether or not someone is going to donate again shouldn't be the primary focus when expressing gratitude. While creating repeat donors is clearly an important part of developing your donors, don't give thanks just to get another gift; give thanks because it's the right thing to do. Donors deserve to enjoy their giving, and by showing your gratitude you let them feel good about their generosity. This is an important part of the philanthropic process and an absolute necessity in donor development.