By Matthew Helmer
It’s Valentine’s Day, and (setting aside my personal disdain for the undue pressures created by this fabricated commercial holiday) it’s a great time to think about fun ways fundraisers can show our donors some love — without expecting anything in return. That’s right folks, on Valentine’s and every other day of the year, just say no to the Thask!
Here are three ideas to engage with donors and demonstrate gratitude for their generosity — without asking for more:
Take them on a date! Ok, not an actual date, y’all (!!) ... this isn’t that kind of blog. I’m referring to opportunities to create a touch point with donors by maximizing existing events on your campus or in your community. Grab tickets to a local symphony performance, lecture series, or athletic event and invite along a handful of donors who you know will be interested in going. Host a happy hour or small dinner at a local restaurant before or after as a way to make a night of it. This is a great way to spotlight programs that are of interest to your donors—whether or not it’s something your organization does. Donors will appreciate the opportunity to have a good time doing something they enjoy, and it’s a minimal investment of time and money to demonstrate your appreciation (much less so than staging your own event).
Showcase their impact! Any day is a good day to report on the positive ways donors are making a difference through their generosity. Tee up a Valentine for your donors with a special report on their impact—print or digital—and deliver it on February 14. For most organizations, mid-February is a great time to report on outcomes from the previous calendar year. Depending on your organization’s capabilities, the report can be on individual or collective impact (or both!), and that impact message pairs well with a heartfelt reminder of how much we love our donors—just like wine and chocolate!
Send a video love letter! Few experiences can relate the story of a donor’s impact as well as the sights and sounds of video. Use a platform like ThankView to send custom messages of gratitude from beneficiaries, or collect shots of your organization’s mission in action and compile into one collective message of thanks. Share the love on your social media channels. Remember that video doesn’t have to be professionally produced to make a huge splash—it just needs to convey an authentic message of gratitude for the meaningful ways donors are making a difference through their partnership with you.
Whether you’re dreading or anticipating Valentine’s Day, these are three easy-to-implement ideas for turning a Hallmark holiday into a day of gratitude. What are some other unique ideas you’ve done or experienced from others? We’d love (get it?) to hear from you!
Matthew S. Helmer is a DRG Group member and Assistant Vice President of University Advancement at Colorado State University. This (and every) Valentine’s Day, you will find him curled up with a bottle of Cabernet, some sea salt caramels, and a stack of blank notecards, ready to pen some words of gratitude (sorry about the drops of wine, though!). Connect with Matthew on LinkedIn or follow on Twitter for more (mostly random) ideas.