change begins with gratitudeAs we tumble headlong into the year-end fundraising season of annual appeals and holiday gift-giving campaigns, nonprofits are planning and plotting – not just to make the ask, but also to ensure those who heed the call feel recognized and appreciated.

This can be especially challenging for social justice advocacy organizations, where the mission often involves changing hearts and minds on controversial topics – on a shoestring budget, of course. These organizations know it’s the donors – many of whom are personally affected by the issues at stake — who make the work possible. But given the long time horizon for change on the issues, many social justice organizations don’t always know how to make sure donors know just how much their gifts are appreciated, and how directly their gifts are linked to impact.

We took a look at our clients and colleague organizations, and were delighted to see so many creative, clever, engaging ways social justice groups are showing their donors how much they value their contributions and that the mission demands not just their gifts, but also their personal engagement.

  • Center for a New American Dream has sent supporters mission-aligned premiums — which is really hard to do for an organization that’s all about “less stuff”. They created a wallet buddy — it’s a simple sleeve for your credit cards, offering reminders to help supporters focus on having more of what matters. As a gift for investing in the organization, the donor gets an every day reminder to invest in their values. Plus, this small premium requires modest investment to print, and no extra fulfillment costs, since it ships right in the thank you letter.
  • Consumer’s Union showed just how seriously they take donor engagement when they invited donors to inform – via the web site – and then select – via email voting — their next big advocacy effort. They backed it up with examples of previous winning campaigns, seeded and selected through prior votes to make the opportunity for input even more real, relevant and powerful.
  • Many Planned Parenthood affiliates engage in pledge-a-picketer fundraisers, where donors are invited to give a specific dollar amount for every protestor that turns up outside a clinic. It involves the donor on the front lines (quite literally) of the organization’s work and it gives donors a productive place to vent their frustrations with vocal opponents. Most importantly, it allows to the donor to play a strategic role in supporting the work of the organization, since every dollar raised this way serves to discourage protestors. Satisfaction might be the best donor reward of all!

How are showing your donors your gratitude this Thanksgiving?

Photo courtesy of  Flickr user jen collins
. . .

Holly MinchHolly Minch is LightBox Collaborative’s founding partner and is thankful for the opportunity to serve clients who are dedicated to making our world a better place.