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Want to Have Repeat Funders? Thank Them Properly!

You just got a grant! After popping open the champagne and doing a happy dance, it’s time to watch for that grant agreement and look forward to the money that will help you reach your goals.


Wait - there’s one absolutely crucial thing you must do first. Thank the funder!


But don’t just thank them with an email. You’re a talented grant professional. You can do so much better than that, and even set the stage for more grants.


You’re also working hard and doing a bazillion things. What are some easy, cost-effective ways to thank funders?


First, research what to do and what NOT to do. Some funders want to remain anonymous. The last thing they want to see is a news release and big announcement when a funder wanted to donate to you on the “down low.”


If the coast is clear and you can publicly recognize the funder, here are my favorite ways to recognize them:


1. A REAL thank you letter or card, an old-fashioned hard copy item you write and sign by hand within 48 hours of the grant notification. Gasp! That alone can make a huge impression. How many funders are getting old school appreciation these days?


By the way, make sure the letter does triple duty - it should be heartfelt, include a tax receipt, and extend an invitation for future engagement.


2. Photos with beneficiaries holding a Thank You sign OR with people involved in the project in “action-mode.”


3. Put their name on a donor plaque or donor wall.


4. Host a once-a-year continental breakfast for local funders. This is a great opportunity for staff and board members to meet people.


5. Have a Thank a Thon where board members call donors simply to say “thank you.” And nothing else. Even if they leave mostly voicemails, this makes a tremendous impression.


6. Mention the award in a news release, in your annual report, website, social media, etc.


7. Have clients create artwork they can put in a thank-you letter, if they’re creative (or if they’re children.)


8. Plant a tree in a funder’s honor. It benefits the environment and provides a cool photo opp for local media.


9. Have your Executive Director, Program Manager, or any staff member call to thank the funder.


Want to learn more? We offer a fun presentation called Knock Their Socks off Thank Yous. Contact Amy Shankland at amys@greenavenue.info to request a quote.


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