Hot Lava πŸŒ‹ and Flexing Your Gratitude Muscle πŸ’ͺ

Feb 02, 2022

Several years ago at our Community Foundation, we started a concept we like to call, ‘surprise them with gratitude’. We it. It’s simply a way of taking our thank-you, putting it on steroids, and giving it a good hearty workout! While we don’t have the time or resources to surprise everyone with gratitude, we do pick several and go above and beyond our normal thank you--think bigger than your typical Thanksgiving thank you or your basic gift acknowledgement letter. It really helps us flex our gratitude muscle. And we feel like we are serving our donors better each year we practice this.

How could you work your gratitude muscles this year to thank your most loyal donors for the work they are doing? Is there something you can do to graduate your gratitude? I have a few ideas that might help you.

This week’s lineup:

Left Brain Marketing Methods: When it comes to surprising some (not all) donors with gratitude, the biggest left brain conundrum we have is how to determine who those people are. I think I, with the help of Excel, can help!

Right Brain Marketing Moxie: I hereby declare the month of February as Thank-you-ary. Let's celebrate our donors together with a few ideas just waiting for you to claim as your own.

Are you ready? Let’s go do what we do!

Left Brain Marketing Methods: When it comes to going a bit bigger than normal in your thank you game, you definitely have to determine two things:  what and who?  By what I mean, what can you handle? This is a resource question that can easily be answered with your left brain. What budget do you have to elevate your normal thank you with a surprise? What kind of time do you have to pull this off? Although who might seem like a basic question, it's one that stumps us all the time and often leads to doing nothing when we could at least do something. Who are the donors we should surprise with gratitude? Who are our major donors? Who are our loyal donors?

First of all, left brainers, let's not complicate this more than we need to. If you've never done a Surprise them with Gratitude campaign, then anything is better than you did last year--so start small. Maybe you start with 12 or 25 or 50. You don't have to execute this surprise with everyone. Once you think you need to engage this activity with everyone, then you begin to water down the surprise. Things done in mass aren't special. It's the equivalent to mailing to 'or current resident'. You can do better!

Pull a list from your database. Your major donors are the donors that have given you the most amount of money--no matter what that amount is. Simple as that. It doesn't matter how someone else defines major donor--that's who YOUR major donor is. Pull the list and pick your top 12 or 25 or 50 and surprise them with gratitude. In my experience, over 50 is tough. It gets both expensive and time-consuming--so, don't overdo it unless you know for sure you have the capacity to do so. If you absolutely love this idea and want to supersize it, then plan to do it next year--this way you can build it into your budget for both time and money.

Your loyal donors can be selected in a similar fashion. Although people define donor loyalty in varied ways, I look at loyalty as someone who has contributed to you annually for the past 3 to 5 years, no matter what that donation amount. If you choose to surprise your loyal donors, pull a list from your database of those donors who have contributed loyally and surprise the top 12 or 25 or 50.  

I have a genuine love for Excel. Knowledge is power. So, I love the knowledge that a spreadsheet brings me because it helps us all make data-driven decisions. Quality left brain decisions about what and who. Try it for yourself!


Right Brain Marketing Moxie: The idea of Thank-you-ary likely isn't new to you. It's been roaming around the nonprofit stratosphere for a while now. The basic idea is to actively celebrate your donors. January and February are typical months to do this--both work equally well. I like February for a celebration like this. January, with all the beginning-of-the-year tasks we have on deck gets a bit busier than I like it. But February is the month for Valentines--a great month to show your donors how much you care about them. Remember recently when I told you our Development Manager, Shelly, defined Stewardship as loving our donors? Well, that's what makes February the ideal Thank-you-ary for us--and maybe for you, too. 

When it comes to Surprising Donors With Gratitude, I usually go to the calendar to see what kind of 'holidays' are coming up where we could take a typical day and make it more special than normal. Just Google Fun Holidays in 2022 and you'll find plenty of websites you can use as reference. 

Knowing that you'll need some time to get your left brain ideas above implemented, I doubt that you'll be able to pull something off before Valentine's Day. So, I'm going to show you a sliver of my brain and give you a quick brainstorm of my ideas for what you could do to surprise your donors with gratitude in the last two weeks of February.  Use one of these ideas or get your creative juices flowing by checking out some of my right brain moxie below:

These are the Hershey's Ovations I mentioned...also very affordable!

My brother-in-law used to always say, if a kid gives you a toy phone and tells you the call is for you, you answer it. The same goes for hot lavaπŸŒ‹. When a child says the living room floor if filled with hot lavaπŸŒ‹, you step aside and avoid the danger zone--heck you might even jump up on the couch! The bottom line is that all adults have a playful side. We all appreciate a wholesome gesture and a good laugh. There is absolutely nothing wrong with bringing a smile to someone's face. Philanthropic instruments like CRATS, CRUTS, IRA's, wills, and estate plans are serious and necessary. Heck, your specific cause might be super serious. That's fine. But it doesn't mean that being generous isn't fun--it's one of the most joyous acts a person can partake in--the exact opposite of boring! Besides, I've never met a person who had been encouraged too much. 

So, go forth and flex your gratitude muscle—and feel free to share!

All My Best,

dawn πŸ’ͺ
[email protected]

P.S. Fundraising is hard, even though you make it look
oh-so easy! ♥

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