How To Thank Major Donors Through Storytelling

The perfect way to thank your major donors this holiday season is through storytelling. It’s a bold statement (literally, it’s in bold), but we don’t make it lightly! 

Let’s face it, we are past the “age of the numbers” – a time when nonprofit marketers and fundraisers focused their efforts on impact numbers like people served, hours of programming, communities impacted – and we have officially entered what we are deeming: the age of storytelling

Now, that’s not to say those numbers aren’t important! Impact numbers are essential for nonprofits to measure their success and assess future strategy. 

holiday fox - thank major donors with storytelling this holiday season

They WILL assist you in securing those foundation grants, and those pie charts look incredible on your annual report.

To you, numbers prove you’ve made a difference.
To your donors, numbers can be abstract. They need storytelling context. 

Your major donors have the most emotional, and financial, investment in your mission. So, focus on the impact that their donation has made by sharing a story about an individual, family or community that has been served as a result of the donor’s generosity. 

For example, if your nonprofit provides education to disadvantaged children, you should share a story about a specific child who has been able to attend school and thrive thanks to the donor’s support. This personalizes the impact of the donation and helps the donor feel connected to the cause they are supporting.

You might be thinking: “Obviously!! But how do I actually DO this?”

Ok, we’re getting there! Your major donors need to hear a “thank you” from you multiple times a year, each time with new stories to share. “Thank you” can manifest in several ways, including:

1. Special occasion updates, like holiday cards. Do not miss this opportunity to thank your major donors during the season of giving with a holiday-themed story! Is your organization sending out a holiday card this year? If not, there’s still time to pull together an e-card! If yes, well we still recommend you pull together an e-card!

Example, if your nonprofit mission focuses on housing insecurity, do not hesitate to share the story of a family who was able to decorate their Christmas tree and purchase presents “from Santa” due to the generosity of your donors.

FOX TIP: If you don’t have this content to share THIS year, have your programs staff set up a MemoryFox campaign NOW and ask those you serve to consider filming a video or taking a photo during this holiday season that your organization can use for next year. You will thank yourself later for your incredible foresight!

2. Regular updates, like newsletters or email blasts. Another way to thank major donors using nonprofit storytelling is to provide regular updates, complete with a mission moment

Would involve sending quarterly newsletters or monthly email blasts that highlight the achievements and milestones that have been made possible thanks to the donor’s support. This helps the donor see the tangible results of their donation and shows that their contribution is making a real difference.

FOX TIP: Don’t reinvent the wheel here! Your email blast content should be information that you have already shared on your social channels. Make your life easier by reusing the storytelling videos, photos and captions that you have already worked so hard to collect in MemoryFox, create in Canva, and share.

3. In-person invitations, like program participation or volunteer opportunities. Major donors love the opportunity to see the impact of their donation firsthand. 

Inviting them to visit the programs or initiatives that their donation is supporting, or offering them the chance to meet the individuals who have benefited from their generosity, is bringing the story to them directly. This will deepen the donor’s connection to the cause and will make them feel even more invested in your mission.

FOX TIP: This also gives your major donors a chance to share THEIR story about why they give to your nonprofit. After they’ve participated in a program, ask them to submit a video sharing their experience. You will you love hearing how much they learned, and you might even receive valuable feedback about how better to share your nonprofit’s stories in the future! 

Remember, the key to thanking major donors using nonprofit storytelling is to focus on the impact of their donation and to help them feel personally connected to the cause they are supporting. By sharing stories and providing regular updates, nonprofits can show their major donors that their contributions are making a real day-to-day difference.