Ways to Thank Major Donors

thank youBy Molly Ritvo

[Written with synagogues in mind; applicable for all.]

Over the past two weeks, we’ve given suggestions on how you can create a culture of gratitude in your organization. One particularly important demographic in your community that deserves special attention is the major donors. According to Penelope Burke, noted philanthropy researcher, cultivating major donors is an art. She suggests that a basic guideline is to communicate gratitude three times for every time you ask for support from this important segment. Below are four meaningful ways that you can thank the major donors in your organization:

  1. Get to know your new major donors! Call them personally and invite them for lunch or coffee. Find out their interests, passions, what motivates them to give. Offer them suggestions on other ways they can connect with your community, such as joining a Women’s Rosh Chodesh group or joining the Tikkun Olam/Social Action committee.
  2. Invite them them to a private reception at your synagogue. Every few months, invite donors into your synagogue for an open discussion. Share your financial updates and have a general question and answer period about what’s happening in your community. Show them the impact of their contribution. And don’t forget to thank them for coming!
  3. Next, invite major donors to a board meeting. This will give your donors a chance to meet the leadership and to get an idea of how your organization operates. You never know who your next board members – or staffers – are. Consider this tactic as a strategy to get younger folks interested in taking on a leadership role in your community.
  4. Arrange special programs for your major donors. See if you can get a good deal with the symphony or a local theater company and invite some of your donors to go with you to a special show or performance. Maybe even invite them to a private wine tasting at a great winery or a to a local apiary for a honey tasting. These special outings will make your donors feel appreciated.

All of these stewardship ideas will help you develop a sense of commitment, partnership, and value between your organization and your major donors. When you are needing volunteers to lead the next capital campaign or High Holiday greeters or more folks to join a minyan, calling on a pool of connected and engaged donors will really help.

Molly Ritvo is Partnership Development & Digital Marketing Associate at Jvillage Network.