One great way to say “thank you” to your donors is to let them do the talking.
If you’re a Downton Abbey fan like me, you’ll recognize this face. For ten seconds before each episode, philanthropist Darlene Shiley comes on screen and tells us why she donates to keep the program on the air.
This is a fabulous thank-you idea that your nonprofit should steal, and I’ll tell you why:
- What’s a greater compliment to your donor than making him or her the voice of your organization?
- What’s more convincing to other donors than hearing heartfelt support from someone who already gives?
- No one reads the list of donors scrolling by except for fundraising professionals (and donors looking for their own name). But everyone watches a video.
Why Video is Right for Your Nonprofit
PBS provides a great example of using what you have to say thank you. They have Downton Abbey, a studio, cameras, lighting.
Your nonprofit might not have a TV show (unless you’re taking advantage of community access television), but you do have lots of media. Your website, your email, your social media…all of them offer you chances to give your donor a voice.
And sure, if you have someone on staff or on your Board who’s great with a video camera, call them in. But it doesn’t take a professional. If you can hold your smart phone steady, you can take a video. And there are tons of software programs that let you edit your video. A few rough edges may even make it look more authentic.
Thank You, Donor, You’re a Star!
Which donor should you ask to speak for your nonprofit? It doesn’t have to be the richest donor, or the one who gave the most. Jeff Brooks lists Things no donor said, ever and includes this:
Would you please tell me more about your wonderful wealthy donors who give far more than I ever could?
That’s why you’re not telling us about all your donors. You’re choosing donors who will love the chance to tell us about your cause.
Darlene Shiley gives a lot–but she also speaks with genuine warmth. That’s why not only PBS but San Diego State University, California State University, and other organizations have given her a voice on video (out of all the philanthropists they could have chosen).
Find your Darlene. It may be someone who gives a tiny amount but gives every year. The amount doesn’t matter. What matters is that the person on screen wants to speak up for you–considers it a privilege to be asked. Find that person and put him or her on screen.
Why Stop at One?
You may be blessed with more than one person who can speak for you on video, especially if you let them tell their story. Don’t fret about which one to choose. You can say thank-you to all of them by giving them a voice on your different channels.
Asian Women for Health lets donors and activists tell their story on the News page of their website and on YouTube.
JOIN for Justice runs “Our Stories,” a series of videos, on its homepage and all over its website, and on Youtube, and periodically on its Facebook page.
In my community, the Somerville Homeless Coalition shared its new video, It Takes a Somervillage, by email. The video includes donors as well as public officials and partner organizations. All of them took it as a compliment.
You can feature the voices of many supporters over time. The important thing is to get started. You want to thank your donors all year long, and the time to begin is now.