Everyone likes to be acknowledged, and your supporters are no exception. This year, don’t wait until the last minute to thank board members, volunteers, interns and donors. Use these end-of-year recognition ideas to create affordable, thoughtful ways to thank supporters for all they contributed.
Ideas for Different Types of Supporters
Fun — and affordable — ideas for thanking board members:
- A jar of Lifesavers candy for the board member who’s always there to help out in a pinch.
- A travel mug with a coffee shop gift card to recognize the board member who is notorious for bringing high energy in everything they do.
- A small potted plant is a perfect way to welcome new members and thank them for the growth they’ve brought to your board.
- Ask colleagues to share fond or funny memories from their interactions with board members and use those insights or inside jokes to personalize the gift.
- Coordinate a photo of your team and some of the individuals you serve holding up a sign that reads “THANK YOU!” Use the photo to create custom notecards you can use to express personalized, handwritten thanks from everyone at your organization.
Volunteers and Interns
Depending on the number of volunteers or interns your organization has in a given year, this can be a tricky group to recognize. Instead of individual gifts or gestures, it may make more sense to host one big get together for everyone to attend. Whether you cater or make it a potluck affair, this is fun for everyone. Make the breakfast or luncheon extra special with a slideshow of your volunteers and interns in action over the past year!
Large gestures aren’t a good fit for every organization, so now is a great time to be creative and think of small objects or symbols that relate to your mission.
Get mission-minded for creative ways to thank volunteer and interns:
- Is your organization dedicated to education? Enlist the help of students to create a piece of art you can copy and distribute with a thank you note.
- Is your work all about the environment or sustainability? Think of seed packets with a message on the wrapping or a reusable water bottle branded with your logo. Bonus: Super-functional, branded gifts are a great way to get volunteers talking about your organization when they use your gift on the go.
- Volunteer survival kits are easy to customize based on your org’s mission! Think of nonperishable snacks, sunscreen (for volunteers who are often outside), bandaids and hand sanitizer (for volunteers who get their hands dirty) and something sweet to boost energy and morale.
- A personal letter or infographic postcard that tells the volunteer or intern how their hours impacted your organization.
TIP: When giving individualized gifts, remember to give equitably! Personalize small things like candles, coffee tins and goody bags for gifts that vary in type, not in value.
Last, but never least, your donors. Will you use giving levels to determine how you recognize supporters, or will everyone receive the same end-of-year gesture? This is an important decision because it usually indicates how much time and money you’ll need.
For donors who keep your nonprofit afloat financially, resist the urge to overspend. An expensive or flashy donor gift could alienate some of your supporters because it sends a message that your organization is flush with resources. Lower-cost items are usually better received because they demonstrate that you are using funds wisely. Depending on the donor, public recognition may also be a small gesture that makes a big impact. Any of the gifts above would be a wonderful way to thank donors, but here are more donor recognition ideas:
- An end-of-year slideshow featuring messages of thanks with pictures of supporters in action at your organization. Play your slideshow at an event or embed it into your monthly newsletter. And don’t forget to post it on Facebook where others can help celebrate the generosity of your supporters!
- Did one major gift help fund a big project like a library, garden or a new service this year? Invite the donor(s) to experience firsthand what they made possible! Private tours, luncheons or community celebrations are always memorable ways to recognize donors and gifts.
- Write an end-of-year giving ask and acknowledgment. As you’re sending your end-of-year appeal, remember to be thoughtful and grateful. If there are board members whose friends have donated, perhaps ask them to sign their appeal personally. And if it’s appropriate to include quotes from the people you serve, do so! Small details and personalization will go a long way.
End-of-year recognition can be the difference between losing or retaining a supporter. No matter your financial budget, the time you spend recognizing supporters is a guaranteed investment in your organization’s future.