Have you ever wondered how to show your nonprofit’s donors appreciation? Or how to thank them properly? We will show you how to do so (and why) in this article.
Donor gifts can be a great way to acknowledge your donors every time they give to your organization. Keep reading to learn 11 different nonprofit donor gift ideas to help you thank and retain your donors!
Why is Thanking Donors Important?
Showing gratitude to your donors is essential. When someone supports your organization with time, energy, or resources, a timely and meaningful acknowledgment shows them that you genuinely value their contribution, which will lead to more repeat donors and more gifts to your nonprofit!
Small acts of recognition, such as a thank-you or a donor gift, can go a long way toward building lasting relationships with your donors. It’s important to acknowledge every gift you receive, not just those that occur around the holidays or specific campaigns.
You might be wondering: what kinds of gifts should your nonprofit give its donors? Keep reading to find out how to choose the best gifts for your organization’s donors!
How to Determine What Types of Gifts Are Best For Your Donors
Figuring out the best types of gifts for your donors can be tricky. But don’t stress! Considering the following factors should help you determine which ones are right for your donors.
First and foremost, the cost is a consideration. Offering gifts to donors requires an upfront investment on behalf of your nonprofit.
If you’re offering a gift as an incentive to give, such as a tote bag for all new donors that sign up to give monthly, you want to make sure that the cost of the bags is not so high that it cancels out any future monthly donations. If you’re giving a donor a gift as an acknowledgement of a previous donation, you still want to weigh the cost of the item to make sure that it is appropriate for the size of the donation that was made.
Some nonprofits restrict donor gifts to first-time or major donors, which helps keep costs down. You can also offer different gifts for different donation sizes; donor gifts don’t need to be one-size-fits-all.
Another vital factor in determining the best gift for your donors is personalization—you have to know your donors, their interests, and their values.
It’s important to collect as much information about your donors as you possibly can. You can do this organically through personal conversations with donors, and you can also do it more formally through surveys, donation forms, or events you are hosting. This way, when it’s time to think about what type of donor gift to offer, you have some personal information about them that might help inform your decision.
For instance, if a donor has mentioned to you in past conversations that they are a huge sports fan, a branded baseball cap or tickets to a sporting event would be a great choice!
Another major consideration is publicity. One popular approach to nonprofit donor gifts is to mix function with some free publicity by gifting branded items.
Sending donors tote bags, mugs, notebooks, or keychains with your nonprofit’s logo on them is a great way to thank the donor while also bringing awareness to your organization. Donors can serve as some of your strongest and most vocal ambassadors, and high-quality branded items help them do this successfully!
11 Donor Gift Ideas
Are you struggling to think of ways to thank your donors? Don’t stress! Below, we offer 11 great ideas for donor gifts that can fit any budget.
1. Handwritten thank-you card
A handwritten thank-you note never goes out of style! A personalized letter, written by hand, that genuinely thanks the donor for their contribution to your organization has the potential to make an incredible impact.
It only takes a few moments to handwrite a note of thanks, and the cost of postage is minimal. If you’re at a loss about what to write, don’t fret! Writing a thank-you note can be broken down into three easy steps:
- Greet your donor - Start with a short and sweet personal introduction.
- Thank your donor - Be specific, and specify how their gift will be used.
- Wrap it up! Close your thank-you note with warm regards and include a sentiment about the future.
There’s never a wrong time to send a handwritten thank-you note. So, when in doubt - get out your thank-you cards and pen, and write a personal note to your donors! However, remember that thank-you cards don’t offer the same opportunity for positive publicity as some of the following gift ideas do.
2. Potted plants or flower seeds
Does your donor have a green thumb? Are they a “plant parent”? Some donors would love to receive a plant gift. A small potted plant, like an orchid, would make a great thank-you gift.
Of course, you can always include a handwritten thank-you note to the donor along with their gift.
The cost of this gift would vary, depending on the plant or seeds that you buy. Buying a dozen potted plants could be costly while buying a dozen seed packets would be more affordable.
Not every donor will have a green thumb, which is why it is important to know your donors, their interests, and their hobbies! Like handwritten notes, a plant also doesn’t give you an opportunity for publicity, which is an important consideration.
3. Tote bag
A reusable tote bag with your logo on it makes a great gift for almost everyone! It’s practical, useful, and often low-cost to have printed.
And remember–if your nonprofit’s logo is on it, the bag will serve as positive publicity for you every time your donor uses it!
The cost of tote bags will vary depending on the material, the number you order, and the colors you choose. To get an idea of the cost, check out the tote bag options offered here.
The only downside to this gift is that many nonprofits choose this item—so yours will likely not be the only bag that your donor has received.
4. Mug with tea or coffee
A personalized mug filled with locally-roasted or sourced coffee beans or tea is a great gift for donors who enjoy a warm (sometimes caffeinated) beverage!
Depending on your budget, you can opt for a classic coffee mug or an insulated travel mug. You can have the mugs printed with your organization’s logo on them, with your donor's name or initials, or you could even purchase mugs from a local pottery store. The cost of this gift will vary depending on the type of mug you choose.
Choosing a branded hat as a donor gift serves dual purposes: your donors get a cool accessory and your nonprofit gets some great publicity!
Depending on your location and your donor's preference, you could choose a baseball hat or a winter beanie-style hat.
Check out this great example from Habitat for Humanity!
The cost will vary based on the style and branding options you select. Based on our research, you can expect to pay anywhere from $12 - $25 per hat.
The downside to this gift is that not every donor will wear a hat—so be sure it is an appropriate choice for your audience and organization.
Who doesn’t like a soft blanket to curl up with? There are many blanket options, branded and non-branded, at varying price points.
You could purchase a blanket from a local artisan or home decor store or have one made with your organization’s logo on it.
The price point will vary depending on where you shop and whether or not you are having blankets custom-printed with your logo. You can check out these promotional blanket options to get an idea of the price and whether this gift fits into your budget.
A promotional blanket is a great opportunity for your donors to give your organization some publicity!
7. Paper Goods
Beautiful high-quality paper goods, like to-do lists, notepads, desk calendars, or journals, are a great thank-you gift for donors who appreciate handwriting their notes. There are countless paper goods stores that you can order from online, like Sugar Paper or Rifle Paper Co., with gift items at varying price points.
This is another instance where it benefits you to know your donors. If your donor is tech-savvy, and keeps track of all of their lists and calendars on electronic devices, this isn’t going to be a great gift choice for them.
However, if you have a donor that always carries a notebook with them, or has written you handwritten notes before, this would be a great option.
If your donor is an art aficionado, a piece of artwork could be a perfect gift for them. Larger and more personalized gifts, like artwork, should be reserved for top-tier donors.
This thoughtful gift shows your donor that you took the time to select something you knew they would enjoy. If your nonprofit is international, it might be possible to choose a piece of art by an artist local to where your programs operate. This would make the gift even more meaningful to your donor!
The price of this gift will vary greatly depending on the piece of art you choose. It’s important that you do a cost-benefit analysis to be sure that the cost of the gift isn’t greater than the donation that you received.
9. Thank-You Dinner or Event
A donor recognition event, like a dinner, is a great way to recognize a large group of donors at one time. This type of gift will require a lot of resources from your organization–both financial and human–so it’s important to be sure that the end result is worth the work.
A thank-you event can be a great way for your donors to meet one another, interact with staff and program recipients face-to-face, and enjoy a nice meal together. Whenever you host the event, be sure to determine who will be invited, where the event will be held, and how donors will be acknowledged during the event’s program.
10. Donor Wall
A donor wall is a great way to honor and recognize the gifts of your top donors. While this isn’t a tangible gift, many donors will be honored to have their names memorialized on a donor wall in your nonprofit’s space.
Obviously, this is only an option for your organization if you have a physical office space in which to design the wall—something to consider since many organizations have pivoted to remote operations post-COVID.
Creating a donor wall is an extensive process that requires a good understanding of your organization and your donors, as well as a healthy amount of artistic ability—or the funds to hire an outside artisan to design your wall.
It’s important to determine which donors you want to recognize on your wall and to set clear parameters around whose name gets on the wall to avoid any hurt feelings among your donor base.
The Vancouver Aquarium recently revealed a new donor wall, capturing donor names and contributions on fish, mounted on a large wall near the aquarium’s entry.
Instead of gifting material items, some organizations could give back to their donors by offering unique experiences. For example, an art museum could offer exclusive tours of artist studios, or a zoo could offer backstage tours and animal feeding opportunities. These perks should be reserved for long-time or major donors.
Costs associated with these experiences will vary, and should be considered in detail before offering them to a donor. Will you need to pay staff to work additional hours for these experiences? Are there supplies that you will need to purchase? All of these questions should be considered.
The downside of offering these experiences is that not all of your donors may be local to your organization, meaning they would be unable to participate. Further, in a post-COVID-19 world, some donors may still be hesitant to attend in-person functions or activities. Consider offering these experiences virtually for those who are unable or uninterested to attend in person.
Wrapping Up: 11 Nonprofit Donor Gift Ideas
In this article, we showed you 11 unique ways that you can acknowledge and thank donors for their contributions to your nonprofit.
Acknowledging donors is a critical component to donor retention. Knowing your donors, their preferences, and their values will help you to determine the best way to recognize them. The options are endless—but don’t be overwhelmed! Regardless of your budget, there are 11 great ideas in this article that you can put into practice in your nonprofit.
For even more insight on working with donors, check out our post on donor management best practices. With these resources, you’ll be well on your way to cultivating strong donor relations and securing stable funding streams for your nonprofit.