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50 Ways to Love Your Donors

Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” reminds me that we need 50 Ways to Appreciate Our Donors!

Use these ideas so they won’t leave us “on the bus, like Gus.”

Handwritten/U.S. mail

1. Letter from the CEO or Executive Director

2. Handcrafted note from a participant; bonus if this is from a child

3. Note from a board member

4. Postcard with impact story

5. Note of appreciation from a client


6. Signed with personal notes from all staff or several clients

7. Anniversary of their first gift

8. Birthday

9. Valentine’s

10. Thanksgiving

11. 4th of July

Phone call

12. From the CEO / ED (feel free to leave a message)

13. From a board member


14. To special meetings with leadership to hear updates

15. To VIP reception prior to gala or luncheon

16. To lunch — say thank you in person and let them know how the gift was used

17. To attend a program and meet participants

18. Behind-the-scenes tour for your donor and their friends (museum or cultural institution).

19. Private conversation with “stars” (performing arts center)

20. To volunteer with a program, they have funded


21. Ask them how they wish to be recognized

22. Include them in your donor wall (or online donor list)

23. Include in giving society

24. Framed certificate of appreciation

25. A plaque or award for their desk or wall (at home or at work)

26. Nominate them for volunteer or donor of the year award

27. Public recognition at an awards dinner or reception


28. Picture (photo or drawing) from a client

29. Baked goods (baked by your clients) delivered to their home or office

30. Handmade gift from clients

31. A small plant or bouquet of flowers

32. Cookie delivery

33. Hersey kisses to show your affection

34. Roll of Lifesavers — they are lifesavers to your organization

35. Key chain with a “key” to your home (residential programs)

36. Luggage tag in a bright color

37. Address labels

38. Highlighters


39. Tote bag

40. Coffee mug

41. Singing telegram / serenade (performing arts organizations)

42. Small first aid kit (healthcare organizations)


43. Personalized email from the program staff sharing an impactful story

44. Social media post mentioning a donor’s support

45. Include their story in your newsletter

46. A text to say thanks

47. Short video with a quick note from Executive Director

48. Share their story on your website (showcase your donor’s reason for giving)

49. Quarterly updates on the impact of their giving

50. Link to video of clients or staff saying “thank you” using the donor’s name (a personal video, not simply a generic one).

Incorporating a few of these suggestions can ensure your donors’ loyalty for the long term, so they don’t make a new plan, Stan.


Michelle Crim, CFRE

Dynamic Development Strategies can help. We offer coaching, grant writing, and fundraising services for our nonprofit clients. We specialize in small to mid-size organizations because we understand your challenges. Please contact us for more information.

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