How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. - Elizabeth Barrett Browning
There are so many ways our donors provide our organizations support— every day, all year long. It's our turn to celebrate this love and devotion by celebrating them this Valentine's Day. As dear Ms. Browning said, there are so many ways to show your donors how grateful you are that they made your nonprofit their priority. Here are a few ideas to help you "count the ways" your donors have shown their love and honor them this month.
1. Send a hand-made card – everyone loves getting a card in the mail, and the more personal, the better. If you work for a children's charity, have them create the cards. If you're an arts organization, showcase some of your amazing art, or if you're a nonprofit that supports animals, make cards with paw prints. You get the idea – find what makes your organization uniquely you and play that up with a beautiful card.
2. Create a "Love Your Donor" phone campaign - create a list of donors who you would like to call (or text) this Valentine's Day to say thank you for the "love" they show your organization. Involve your entire team, board members, volunteers, recipients, and even your leaders in making the calls. If they are not home, leave a voicemail with a heartfelt message. If you have a cell phone number – text them!
3. Share the love with a social media campaign – Let donor love take over Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even Linked In for the month. Make your messages all about love, gratitude, and thankfulness for those donors who support your organization. Remember to feature all types of donors and celebrate levels of giving. In addition to your top donors, feature your most loyal donors, new donors, and employees who give. You could feature recipients, organizational leaders, local celebrities or community leaders, or family members sharing notes and signs of gratitude.
4. Create an impact report that demonstrates what your donor's gifts have made possible at your organization. Keep it simple, specific, and graphic. For example – let's say you provided 18,000 meals to families in need, or 952 students attended their first-ever play in your theatre. Share the real and tangible impact of your donors' love for your organization.
5. Celebrate their love story – one of my all-time favorite ideas for honoring donors on Valentine's Day. At Oklahoma State University, they found old yearbook photos of the married alumni. Then, they framed them with a note that said, "From Orange beginnings come great things." It celebrates their love for each other and reminds them of where their love story began. Swoon!!!
6. Create a photo or keepsake book – every year, my sister creates a keepsake book for her family that captures all the memorable moments and highlights of the year. We all look forward to opening this gift each year and reliving these significant moments. Some of the photos make us laugh—and some make us cry—but it is personal and meaningful. What if you did something like this for your donors. Gather images that tell a story, celebrate the year, the donors, the recipients, the progress, the impact—the beauty that is your organization. We love Blurb, Zno, or even Shutterfly—they are affordable and have quick turnaround times.
7. Host an event with a cause - February is also National Heart Month. The American Heart Association created a Wear Red campaign to bring attention to women's heart health. At UC Davis, our Department of Design formed a unique partnership with the Women's Cardiovascular Medicine Program and hosts an annual event featuring a collection of red dresses designed by our students. Each year in February, the new designs are unveiled at the UC Davis Women's Heart Care Education and Awareness Forum. It is an exciting event, and our donors and grateful patients love it.
8. Send Goodies – many organizations are known for specialty items made or produced at their organizations. Utah State University has a Chocolate Factory—yum!— as part of their food science department. Their goal is to provide opportunities to learn about chocolate and its production. UC Davis is known for viticulture and enology—and our students make wine. Washington State University makes famous, award-winning cheese in a can (and it's delicious). Sacred Heart University, Penn State, University of Wisconsin- Madison, Clemson University, and many more make specialty ice cream. What does your organization make or produce that could be a lovely Valentine's Day gift for your donors? Think outside the chocolate box!
9. Send a Video— create a short video wishing your donors Happy Valentine's Day. Tell them why they are important to you and how much you love their support. It can be a produced video or a simple and authentic video made on your phone. We love ThankView and use it to send personal videos to a few and many all year long. Here's a great example from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City.
There are countless ways to tell our donors how important they are to us and remember them on this special holiday. I hope these ideas inspire you to take a moment this year to acknowledge the love you have for your generous supporters. Remember—our donors are the heart of our work. Valentine's Day is the perfect time of year to remind them how thankful you are for all they do for your organization. Share how you plan to spread the donor love on Valentine's Day in the comments below.