Do you have a favorite restaurant or coffee shop? Do you consider your car mechanic or your dry cleaner a friend? Often, we have those feelings because the people that represent the service we’re seeking make us feel valued. You’re greeted by name, your preferences are remembered, and you’re sincerely thanked.

Unfortunately, in this day and age of watching overhead and “doing more with less,” what sometimes gets overlooked are those small touches that tell us we’re not just one of the masses – we matter just because of who we are.

In a blog post about making people feel valued, business coach Christy Wright listed four ways we can accomplish that – if we’re authentic. Each one of these can help us do a better job showing our donors they matter to us and beat the numbers when it comes to the sad state of donor retention.

  1. Be specific. What is your donor making possible because of his or her gift? Why is something somewhere just a little bit better because of the donation? Don’t over-promise, but also don’t be so vague that your supporter can’t visualize the impact that was made by the act of giving. Ms. Wright reminds us that specificity feels more genuine than vague statements.
  2. Include how they helped you. Did you announce a goal or talk about a new opportunity? Let the donor know that his or her gift helped you achieve that goal or brought you closer to being able to launch the new program. As fundraisers, we are often good at putting forth a challenge but not as strong at telling the donors the results. Simply saying “You help make the world a better place” is less meaningful to the donor than, “Because of you, a student is learning to read.”
  3. Make it personal. “All you out there in Donor Land” is far less meaningful than, “Mary, your generosity is helping provide temporary shelter for families who lost everything in the recent hurricane. Your compassion for desperate people – even though you may never meet them – reflects what a wonderful person you are.”
  4. State your appreciation. Again quoting Wright, “Explicitly stating your appreciation is even stronger than just saying thank you.” Let your donor know that it’s not simply the organization that is grateful, but rather it is you. Your thank you letters should sound like you are sitting down talking face-to-face with your donor, not simply addressing an anonymous crowd.

Saying “thank you” for a gift is critical, but truly making the donor feel valued by you and your organization goes even further to build lasting partnerships with donors. Don’t settle for retaining only some of your donors. Instead, build friendships with supporters by never making saying thank you just another task to cross off your list.