Donor appreciation is an essential piece of any nonprofit marketing strategy. Luckily, the benefits of saying “thank you” go far beyond politeness alone. Reaching out to express your organization’s gratitude is the perfect chance to show supporters they’re indeed making a difference – which is one of the keys to whether or not they’ll donate again. While there are a million more ways to show appreciation than we can list, thoughtful gestures or small tokens – particularly those that tell the story of what you’re achieving together – are a great place to start.

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Valentine’s Day is all about #love – which explains why we picked today to blog about ideas for showing your nonprofit donors some L-O-V-E in 2023.

In addition to the benefits of expressing gratitude, donor appreciation is a great way to keep your target audience engaged in what you’re up to. It can even help you attract new supporters and stakeholders. So without further ado, let’s get started! Oh, also … Happy V-Day.

Donor appreciation: why it matters.

We all know nonprofits run on a lot more than dollars and cents. For the purposes of this article, let’s define the term “donors” to include financial supporters, volunteers or even your team members.

That said, what makes donor appreciation so important? Let’s start with the basics.

#1 Because saying “thank you for your donation” is the polite thing to do!

Someone went out of their way to devote their time and resources to helping your organization achieve its goals and do some good in the world. Of course you want to say “thanks” and give them a little recognition.

In that spirit of reciprocity (#bigword), let’s list a few simple, but effective ideas for expressing donor appreciation to get the creative juices flowing.

Creative ideas for donor gifts:

  • Send a personalized card or thank you note, possibly alongside a small gift. (Hint: there are a million useful items they’ll appreciate that you can have custom-printed with your brand).
  • Create a social media post, newsletter or blog article calling out your donors and describing some of the wins they’ve helped you achieve.
  • For bigger budgets, personalized gift boxes–say, an assortment of popcorn and snacks alongside a Netflix gift card–are always a blast to receive.
  • Special events like donor appreciation banquets and VIP concerts serve the dual purpose of creating networking and engagement opportunities.

#2 Donor appreciation says, “You made a difference.”

Did you know one of the top things that can discourage a donor from making another gift to your nonprofit is believing their support didn’t matter? Displays of gratitude are a great way to show your donors you couldn’t do it without them.

Donor appreciation is also the perfect opportunity to vividly tell the story of the good you are doing together – which is a powerful way to build a long-lasting relationship.

When it comes to attracting and keeping donors, research shows they want to know how an organization will put their financial support to use. Instead of just saying thank you this year, think of how you could strengthen your relationship by showing them their support is the difference-maker.

Consider these ideas:

  • Send a personalized letter or postcard with photos, stories or testimonials from the people you (and your donors) helped this year.
  • Shoot a video showcasing your organizational success stories, and send it to your digital mailing list.
  • Design a lookbook or annual report full of visuals and engaging copy, and dedicate it to your donors.
  • Give your donors a personal call to thank them for their support.
  • Create a donor appreciation page on your website, complete with photos, stories and testimonials.

#3 Use gifts and giveaways to attract and keep new donors.

Donor gifts are a great way to promote your organization and encourage new supporters.

Picture those annual pledge drives for NPR, where they give away branded coffee mugs, tote bags and t-shirts.

Research shows promo items are highly effective at promoting your organization; for example, in a study of over 2,000 consumers by Vistaprint, 76% said their perception of a brand changed for the better after receiving a promo item.

Check out this article to learn more about the power of custom swag. In the meantime, consider these on-trend ideas for 2023 that could work with almost any budget.

  • Pens (loved by all)
  • Water bottles or tote bags (for the sustainability-conscious).
  • T-shirts (your charity at a rock concert)
  • USB drives (perfect for speakers and PowerPoint addicts)
  • Caps (it’s a hat, ‘nuff said)
  • Coffee mugs (the nonprofit lifeblood)
  • Zip-up fleece (also makes a great employee gift)
  • Coffee, tea and treats (only if you want to be loved)


Check out even more great gifts.