033: 15 Creative Ideas to Thank Your Funders

Fifteen Creative Ideas to Thank Your Funders

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Are you getting funding for your nonprofit or project? Yay! That’s amazing!

Just don’t forget to give thanks to the funders and donors who are supporting your project.

Follow along with this example to see if it resonates with you.

You work at an animal rescue nonprofit and see a major need for neutering and caring for stray dogs in your neighborhood. You know you need about $50,000 this year to care for 150 stray dogs, which will take 25% of the stay animals off of the streets and make a huge impact in the community.

First you take the time to do the research of surveying how many stray dogs are in the community, what the impact is on their health by being stray, how much kennel space you would need to serve this many dogs, how many staff you would need to care for the dogs, and so forth. You also need to put together a section on the background of your staff and do the research on which foundations give to animal care or community needs.

This all takes some time to put together. Then you must approach the funding source, make sure you meet the requirements and deadlines of the application process. The first year you get a ‘no,’, but you do get some feedback on how to strengthen your application. You apply again the second year and get the heavenly and magical “Yes!” Now you are excited, pick up the check, thank the receptionist at the Foundation profusely (with a bunch of kisses and hugs) and cash your check. A year later you submit programmatic reports. That’s it.

Do you think that the Foundation will be willing to fund another project from you nonprofit in the future if this is the amount of relationship-building you have put in? Probably not. They will probably forgot what the name of your nonprofit is and just know that they gave to an animal shelter in the past.

The thing is, once you get into a foundation you can be an annual beneficiary. But you have to develop a relationship. Saying thank you in fun and creative ways is the best way to maintain and strengthen the relationship!

Idea One

Submit a press release about the award to the media (better yet, ask the Foundation to take a picture with you and submit the picture with the press release!)

Idea Two

Create a social media post saying, “Thank You!” to the Foundation and make sure to tag them in the post. You can also ask people to share this post and make sure they tag the Foundation.

Idea Three

Mail a handwritten note. Yes, good ole snail mail is totally under-rated. People love getting personalized messages in the mail, especially if it includes a cute picture of a puppy on the front of the card from your nonprofit.

Idea Four

Make a “Thank you!” video. For the animal shelter, include the dogs howling in the background or snuggling up with staff.

Idea Five

Make a personal visit with the board of directors. Instead of just thanking the receptionist profusely, who has no idea what the check is for that she is handing over to you, go ahead and ask if you can schedule a visit at the next board meeting. When you are there, tell them thank you, include pictures of the dogs that they are helping and invite them to a site visit at your animal shelter. If you have any swag, this would be a great time to give it out, too!

Idea Six

This leverages idea five. Invite the entire board for a site visit or to a fundraiser (to include FREE tickets). When they come out, formally recognize them.


Idea Seven

Include the foundation’s logo and profile on your website.

Idea Eight

Name something after them! How about a kennel or even the name of a stray dog?

Idea Nine

Create a Recognition Wall. At the animalshelter you could have a “I Love Woof” Wall where you have the names of donors and funders on cut-out bones.

Idea Ten

Conduct a Singing Telegram. Can you imagine if your staff dressed up in dog onesies and went to the next Foundation board meeting and had a singingtelegram. How fun would that be? Who knows, the video of that might go viral and get you more funding.

Idea Eleven

Give updates on progress. Make sure to keep the Foundation in the loop and let them know their money is doing amazing things throughout the year. Send a video once a month showing all the dogs they are helping and give a visual report.

Idea Twelve

Ask for advice throughout the year. If you come up against a challenge, ask the Foundation for advice or recommendations. If you are serving more dogs or not nearly as many as you thought, let them know. If they take part in helping you find a solution they will feel more a part of what you are doing.

Idea Thirteen

Send cards at Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years, and any other fun days throughout the year. What about National Dog Day? Send a card them, thanking them yet again.

Idea Fourteen

Put their logo on all your fundraiser events throughout the year and make sure to tag them again on all posts that include their logo. Even if they just gave for a specific project, have them feel as a part of your nonprofit and they will want to be a part of the entire nonprofit.

Idea Fifteen

Be CREATIVE and Have FUN!  

There are so many ways to say, “Thank you!” Just don’t forget to say it and have FUN when you do it!


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