15 Creative Ways to Incentivize or Thank Fundraisers
When someone chooses to fundraise on your organization’s behalf, it’s important to recognize that person’s commitment and deep engagement with your mission. Similarly, because fundraising requires more effort than making a one-time donation, a prize or gift can provide that extra boost to encourage someone to create a personal fundraising page.
Whether it’s a shoutout on social media, or a branded piece of swag, your organization should be ready to acknowledge, thank, or motivate fundraisers in some way. This token of gratitude or encouragement also creates a personal touchpoint that humanizes your organization and develops your fundraiser relationships.
We’ve assembled the following list to help you show fundraisers your appreciation, or even incentivize their progress along the way. While any of the following ideas can stand on their own, they could also be woven into a larger nurture series or stewardship program to support fundraiser retention.
Whenever possible, consider publicly showering your fundraisers with thanks online. Even a simple tag on social media can go a long way to show a fundraiser you recognize and appreciate their support. To go above and beyond, share photos with your post, or highlight personal stories from fundraisers’ pages on your social channels, or through your email newsletter.
Not everyone loves public recognition though. Consider surveying fundraisers in order to gather basic information and understand their communication preferences, and then throw in a question about how they most appreciate being acknowledged for their support. You can segment your features accordingly to ensure your efforts hit home.
2. Campaign Page Features
Another way to provide public recognition is to highlight top-performing fundraisers on your campaign page like Classy customer Breast Cancer Research Foundation. This not only celebrates your supporters, but provides inspiration for those considering getting involved.
3. Handwritten Thank You Cards
In the age of flooded inboxes and junk mail, a handwritten note of thanks is a simple and effective way to communicate appreciation. Handwritten notes let fundraisers know a human being took time out of their day to take a moment and pen an intentional message.
Even phone calls or voicemails that personally thank fundraisers for their participation can help form more personal connections with your organization. If it’s not feasible to call all your fundraisers, consider reaching out personally to your power fundraisers or those that brought in the most dollars or donors.
3. The Gift of Swag
The benefit of distributing swag to your fundraisers is twofold. On one hand, your fundraiser receives a physical gift. Keychains, decals, T-shirts—the possibilities are endless. On the other hand, by gifting a branded gift, you’re potentially furthering your organization’s exposure.
Branded items also help passionate fundraisers communicate their association with your organization. Just as individuals purchase certain consumer brands and products to communicate to the world around them a sense of their personal identity, supporters of nonprofit organizations may similarly seek to convey their connection to your cause.
4. Thank You Videos
If you’re unable to send a personal note to each of your fundraisers, a thank you video can also help you connect with your fundraisers in a way that still feels personal. Regardless of whether you have a professional in-house videographer or not, even a smartphone clip of a leader or staff member expressing their appreciation is a great way to let fundraisers know they’re seen and appreciated. It’s also a way to make a face-to-face connection during times when that luxury is not possible.
In addition to staff members, you can also create video messages from your beneficiaries. Hearing the direct impact of their fundraising efforts can create an emotional touchpoint that strengthens fundraisers’ sense of commitment to your cause.
5. Phone or Desktop Wallpapers
Digital gifts like phone or desktop wallpapers can be a very cost-effective way to incentivize or thank fundraisers. Create a few designs and then distribute them widely.
Simple ideas include inspirational quotes that resonate with your cause, or vivid photography of your work or beneficiaries.
6. Thank You Party
Set up a virtual or in-person event to gather your fundraisers together and reward them for all their hard work.
If you’re unable to gather physically, or your fundraisers are both near and far, consider enhancing a virtual party by mailing out gift cards to food-delivery services. For example, the HEADstrong Foundation, a Classy customer, sent GrubHub gift cards to their virtual gala participants to liven up their shared online experience.
7. Fundraising Milestone Matrix
For donors, stewardship matrix tools can help standardize your donor follow-up process. Depending on the manner of their gift (one-time, recurring) and the amount, a matrix clarifies which rewards (or follow-up actions) go to which donors.
To incentivize fundraisers to reach specific heights as they raise money for your organization, you can create a fundraising milestone matrix. Publicly display this matrix on your campaign page or in your communications to let fundraisers know what rewards each level of funds raised “unlocks.” Be sure to have a smaller prize available to participants, too. This will help participants know that even smaller amounts of funding make a difference to your work. For instance, this matrix might note:
- $100 raised: Logo decal
- $500 raised: T-shirt
- $1,000 raised: Swag gift basket
- $5,000 raised: Event ticket
- $10,000+ raised: Speaking opportunity
8. Early Birthday or Fundraiser-Anniversary Cards
Many people choose to fundraise for their birthdays, in lieu of receiving gifts. Send a birthday card to these fundraisers to let them know they’re appreciated and remind them of their past experience raising funds for your cause.
The card can also double as a way to ask them to get involved again. Send birthday or fundraising-anniversary cards a month or two in advance to give fundraisers time to prepare and set up another campaign page.
9. Periodic Impact Updates
One way to thank fundraisers for their involvement is to place them into a specific communications/nurture track. Now that they’ve demonstrated a greater sense of investment in your cause, you might send them specific impact updates that remind them of the results they helped to create. Regular updates will keep your cause at the forefront of their mind and provide opportunities for them to get involved again.
Let all those fundraising for your campaign know they’ll be entered in a drawing to win a prize. Whenever possible, select prizes that are connected to your cause. This aligns fundraisers with your efforts and prevents you from acquiring a large number of “supporters” who aren’t as invested in your work and are less likely to stick around and fundraise again.
11. Ambassador Program
Ambassador programs come in all shapes and sizes. One unique spin is to invite fundraisers who reach a certain milestone to become official ambassadors of your organization. Or, ask fundraisers to raise a certain amount per year to maintain their status.
Within your program, you can ensure your ambassadors are advocates for your work in their personal communities. A few ideas are to grant members access to certain educational materials, training sessions, or event invitations. You could also shower them with physical and digital swag that allows them to communicate their achievements and passion for your work to the people around them.
12. Thank You Honor Roll
Create a physical or digital space that stands the test of time to thank fundraisers. Perhaps this is a brick path at your office, a wall of names and photos, or even a page on your website. Fundraisers who reach a certain threshold could be acknowledged by name or in honor of another. Having a more permanent place to thank fundraisers can create a feeling of joining the ranks of passionate supporters that made a lasting impact on your work.
13. Free Entry to Your Next Event
Rewarding fundraisers with free entry to your next event is a great way to focus on deeper engagement with your fundraisers. Those incentivized by this type of reward will be passionate about your work, and not just participating to win a free iPad.
Whether the event takes place in person or online, providing free access creates value for your organization as you further your experience with this individual and increase the likelihood of a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship.
14. Speaking Invitation
Consider granting fundraisers who reach a certain milestone the opportunity to speak at future events. This elevates the voices and stories of your fundraisers in your community and fosters a deep sense of gratitude for fundraiser support. This practice also serves as a great way to remind your staff that your development team acts as a powerful conduit for the community—connecting passionate people with opportunities to make a difference they may otherwise lack.
Did you know return fundraisers typically raise over twice as much as one-time fundraisers? Practice gratitude, provide opportunities to grow your relationship, and stay in touch over the course of the year to improve your retention rates and create an army of passionate advocates for your cause.
The Anatomy of a Successful Peer-to-Peer Campaign
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