Happy National Philanthropy Day! On behalf of this under celebrated day, allow me to share with you some innovative yet cost friendly ways to thank your donors.
1. Have others stop and recognize those who give so much. Many of you have installed thank a donor weeks at your organizations, with great success I am happy to report! Here is one such example from my friends at Elon College. Make sure those outside of your development office are aware and help you thank your donors getting a note from those who benefit from your support is priceless.
2. Set up a Skype booth in your office. Here's what you need: a banner or sheet or some type of wall covering, a computer or tablet or phone with Skype installed and some willing staff or volunteers. We have our students call their scholarship donors who are far away even international ones and offer to Skype with them so they can see the face behind their philanthropy. It is widely successful and popular. Students are teaching donors if they already don't know how to use Skype and the interactions are fabulous. What a pleasant surprise if this happened once a month! It is completely donor focused, scheduled around them, at their time and convenience, unlike events.
3. Recycle or donate those tchotckes you've been wanting to... go ahead, they serve no purpose... Allow your key volunteers or donors amazing experiences instead. Have them attend a rehearsal, have them "conduct" your band, give them inside access to your organization, have them meet others who volunteer, nominate them for an award, write a blurb about them for their local newspaper, the point is, do something!
5. Ok, this one is good... Go get a notecard, piece of paper, etc. write yourself a note of the things you're proud of, grateful for, or dreams you may have. Self address it and give to someone else and ask them to send it to you in a month or two. Remember, gratitude and acknowledgment is something we don't often give ourselves, so force your own hand at it today. You'll thank me later... Lol
6. Take the time to ask your constituents, either by phone, email, or better yet, social media, someone who had an impact on them. It could be anyone, a certain professor or staff member, a mentor, or even the guy at the cafeteria who always remembers you like blueberry pancakes on Wednesdays, and listen to their story. Then make it your mission to reconnect those two and then share their story everywhere you can. Stories like that are powerful and profound, and frankly we need more good news like that daily. As for me, I'm going to write the two professors that changed my life today at lunch.
8. Finally, now that you've done all of that, you should have some leftover money in your budget-ha! I would ask you to pick one volunteer or donor a month and make a contribution to a cause they care about or a fund they have with your organization. Giving is the best gift. Philanthropy is the type of behavior that loves to be replicated. You want to truly thank a donor, thank them in kind, not with items or stuff they can buy, but by giving. It doesn't have to be a significant gift, just one that honors them and their spirit.
Speaking of a good spirit, I'm now collecting thanksgiving, holiday and new year greetings, either digital (links to videos or emails) or in print (pdf) to share with the greater community. Send me yours to email@example.com by December 7th to join the swap! Thank you so much.
#7. Pay attention to what you read... LOL! Fooled you! I jut can't count!