Like many others, I love an organization that thinks outside the box. In our last blog we talked about finding your unique voice and standing out in the crowd. Today I’d like to share some examples of WOW experiences that are likely to have donors wanting to stick around.

Welcome Package
There’s no better way to introduce a donor to your organization and it’s solid strength than by sending them an immediate greeting and welcome package upon the first donation. Think of this like a “Welcome to the Family” speech at a wedding, but with less chuckles and tears. This should set the tone for the new relationship that has been created and will educate your audience even further on all of the good that your NPO is up too. The package will likely include photos, recent updates and a personalized message, explaining the use of their donation. It should be infused with the personality and brand of your organization so that a donor doesn’t forget who they donated too.

Site note: I personally prefer this to come by email, since I am a self-declared tree-hugger, and I believe your donors might care about the dollars that go into all the print…just something to think about when creating this.

I am not just talking about a video to thank your donors or an overall organizational video. I’m talking about all videos, all the time! Nothing is more transparent than your donors being able to watch the work that you do. They don’t have to be long and they don’t have to be perfect, but they should be consistent and professional. With today’s technology, there’s even free software that makes making videos a piece of cake. Find an intern who is tech savvy and task them on videos! Perhaps you release one per month that explains a different story of the benefactors of your mission – or follows a donation into the project it goes towards. Either way, make a video already!

Here’s a great video that was done easily using a Flip! video camera (retails for around $150).

It’s simple, quick and to the point. There’s nothing fancy about it, but it gets the job done.

To see more examples of great non-profit video storytelling, click here >> 

Small and Thoughtful Gifts
Not everyone loves the idea of giving gifts as a way to thank donors. It definitely can be seen as a misuse of important donation funds if used extravagantly – or if used too generically and promotional items such as keychains are handed out. However, there are certain gifts that, if done appropriately, can create a real wow experience. For example, an organization that I volunteered with last year was able to secure a bunch of Thyme seed for a very low price and they sent a packet to me with a card saying, “Thanks for your Thyme.” It went a long way with me and does make me want to continue volunteering with them for years to come.

Real-Time Thank Yous
Recently, the Swedish blood donation service announced an initiative where donors are sent automatic text messages telling them when their blood has actually been used.

This service has actually been running in Stockholm for three years, but it is now being rolled out by other local areas all across the country.

Let’s stop here for a moment and talk about this type of IDE – Incredible Donor Experience.

Meet Sandra.

Sandra works for a large investment firm and is often found eating lunch at her desk due to the busy nature of her schedule. Due to a new campaign by the Swedish blood donation service, she sees a few ads on our commute to work that are asking for Type A blood. Sandra takes her lunch break at 12:00 p.m. and walks over to the local blood donation bank. She has to fill out a large form and wait in line for half an hour, and finally gives blood by 12:45 p.m.. She’s asked to wait 15 minutes before returning to her office, to ensure she doesn’t faint or become weak. She makes it back to the office around 1:15 p.m. She’s a little rushed, hasn’t eaten and thinks to herself, “Maybe that wasn’t the best idea. I don’t have time for this.”

Shortly thereafter, Sandra gets a text message from the local blood service, thanking her for taking the time to donate blood, expressing how important this is to the lives of so many Swedes. This is enough to raise her mood for the afternoon, but it’s not going to push her to go back tomorrow, the next week, or even the next month. Sandra goes about her regular workweek and doesn’t give it another thought.

swedish happySaturday afternoon, Sandra is enjoying some time off with a girlfriend, eating lunch on a patio. All of a sudden, she receives a text message that says, “Hello. The blood that you gave on the 14th of July was just used for a patient at XYZ Hospital. Thank you for saving lives.”

How do you think Sandra felt? What do you think she talked about with her girlfriend at lunch?

Now let’s look this type of excellent donor stewardship within a different organization:

Meet Mark.

Mark is a student who has traveled the world and is taking his degree in Human Rights and Global Studies. Mark has a huge heart and wants to change the world. But before he can give back in a big way, he feels that he needs to get an education and a career.One day on his way to school, Mark sees an urgent appeal by a local homeless shelter as they need funds for the busy Thanksgiving rush that is about to happen. He has $15 in his pocket, so he walks in, finds the first volunteer he can, and gives them the money. Before he walks away, the volunteer grabs his cell phone number and email address and sends him on his way. Mark continues along with his busy day, but when he goes to buy lunch at school and empties his pockets, Mark remembers that he has no cash. He gladly uses his debit card and fondly thinks of how the volunteer thanked him profusely for donating. A week passes and it’s Thanksgiving weekend. Mark takes the bus an hour out of the city to visit family for a big turkey dinner. In the middle of the feast, Mark receives a text message.“Because of your selflessness, a family of four was able to eat a hot meal tonight. Today, of all days, we want to thank you for helping us change lives.”Mark has goosebumps and talks to many family members for the rest of the evening about how much of an impact his $15 had. He realizes that it’s not that he has to get a career before he can start giving.Because he’s already started.

These are all creative, out-of-the-box ways to thank your donor and to forge a longer relationship with them. Add value to their lives, and they will, most certainly, add value to your organization.In the next blog we’ll talk about the importance of knowing that you will need a budget in order to accomplish this and how much to set aside for Donor Retention specifically.