Does Jeff want a letter or would he rather have his name on a scrolling donor wall?

Is a personalized email best or should you post it on Twitter?

Does Courtney want to see a video of an impact story or would a private message be best?

However they’re done, Thank Yous are important.  But even more important than the actual words are the way in which they’re said, emailed, tweeted, posted or shared.

The tricky part is…how do your supporters want you to say it?

Rule #1:  ask.

It is essential for you to understand which audience groups like to hear from you in what ways.  For example, many organizations completely ignore their website as a means to show public appreciation of support when that’s the #1 place some supporters look for it!  Use surveys, polls, calls or email to find out how they want to hear it…and adjust your acknowledgement plan accordingly.

Rule #2: say it.

Once you know how your audience wants to hear it, don’t forget to say it (no, shout it!) as plain as day…THANK YOU!  Yes an acknowledgement letter is excellent.  But it’s also considered “old school” by many demographics.  You shouldn’t stop sending them, just understand ways to supplement your appreciation efforts through digital channels.  Doing so will show forward thinking and good stewardship of your supporter’s resources – trust me, that’s where a lot of them are looking already.

So, How do you do it?

You know who you’re talking to, and you know you need to say it online…but HOW?  Just as you use multichannel communication offline to acknowledge donors, thank them for their support and show the impact their contributions have on your organization’s mission, you should post it online…in multiple ways.

There are 3 tricks to getting the most impact from your digital THANK YOUs:

  1. Let them SEE it.  Thanking a broad audience on your website may seem impersonal, but it’s not.  Think about how it feels when you’re Executive Director stands in front of the team at your organization and says “Thank you.  Thank you for being the heart of this organization and giving us the opportunity for us to fulfill our mission.”Posting a similar message on your website promotes that same feeling amongst supporters.  It shows that you appreicate their support, their time and their efforts, and that they make a huge impact on the organization. It’s the personal connection that will boost engagement and loyalty.
  2. Let them HEAR it.  Multimedia is no longer an “emerging trend” online.  It’s a necessity.  Providing a personal touch through multimedia not only allows users to consume information in multiple ways – video and audio – it also adds another layer of emotional connection and creates a personal interaction that is otherwise unavailable online.
  3. Let them FEEL it.  When a user is able to interact with a website and see the impact supporters make, it gives a virtual element to the appreciation.  By incorporating a virtual map that lets the user see the impact their support had, scroll over key areas of interest, and click to learn more, you are creating an engaging user experience that will build loyalty and trust.  Just don’t forget to lead the interactive element with a strong message of thanks that THEY MADE THIS HAPPEN!
    supportermap1 365x228 Think your website is not where donors look to be thanked? Think again.

In recap, no matter how much effort or work you put into it, please don’t forget about your website in your THANK YOU strategy.  It’s where many supporters are looking first to see it, hear it and feel it…so make sure you’re there…and make sure you’re LOUD!

Please share  how your organization uses your website to say THANK YOU by commenting below!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After graduating from Clemson University, Kelley Jarrett began her career as an advertising and branding strategic account manager in Atlanta, where she helped both for-profit and nonprofit organizations realize their branding goals through web strategy, marketing and advertising. In 2003, Kelley joined Blackbaud and now is the market manager for Blackbaud’s new creative design agency,Guide Creative where she uses her passions for bringing creative ideas and online strategy to nonprofits together.  She speaks annually at Blackbaud’s Conference for Nonprofits as well as various nonprofit trade conferences on the topics of web strategy and design.  Kelley lives downtown Charleston, SC, is married to an architect, has two little girls and enjoys urban gardening, chicken farming, living close (enough) to the beach, and live music.

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