Say thanks to your funders

8 Great Ways To Thank A Funder

You’ve been awarded funding following the review of your latest grant proposal. You can now move forward with an innovative program that will significantly impact your clients, and you want to say thank you to your funder. How do you do it? Do you have one go-to style or way to thank a funder? What if the funder doesn’t want to be recognized? In this week’s blog post, I want to provide you with some tried and true methods of saying thank you, as well as some more innovative ways to recognize the funders who provide you with the financial support you need to do your great work.

We Need To Thank Our Funders

From the time a child is able to talk, most parents work really hard to teach them how to say thank you. Just the other night, my three-year-old granddaughter, unprompted, said, “Thank you for my Shopkins” (those with little kids will understand), and it made me want to buy her all kinds of stuff she doesn’t need. It felt so genuine.

Saying thank you is polite, shows respect, acknowledges gratefulness, and, although it can make the recipient blush sometimes, it often makes the one being thanked feel really good. Funders are no different, and we need to make sure we go out of our way to sincerely thank them for the investment they have made into our organization.

Some Funders Don’t Want To Be Recognized

There are some funders who would rather stay under the radar and don’t want their name or logo flashed all over your website or social media pages. You will want to adhere to their wishes. I encourage you to have a conversation with them or read through their website and any grant proposal guidelines or instructions to see if they specifically mention how they do or don’t want to be recognized.

For the majority of funders out there, saying thank you and being recognized is absolutely fine. In fact, it’s a critical part of the process. Finding genuine and creative ways to say thank you is important as you continue to build a relationship, credibility, and trust with your funder.

So, What Are The 8 Great Ways To Thank A Funder?

Saying thank you can come in all shapes and sizes. Recognizing your funder also doesn’t have to happen only at the beginning of a project – it can be said in different ways and multiple times throughout the course of your relationship.

With that in mind, here are eight methods you can use to thank and recognize a funder , in no particular order.

  • Thank You #1 – Letter Or Card

    Let’s get the easiest and most used method of thanking someone out on the table early. Many people appreciate and even crave words of affirmation. Putting your heartfelt thanks in a card or letter is always a great way to make sure a funder knows you appreciate the investment they have made. I would encourage you to write a card or letter once you have received word of your award, and then would also plan to do something more as you move through the project or come to the end. A card thanking the funder, signed by a number of participants in your program, is one great way to let the funder know their support has made a difference.

    Many grant writers or organizations will want to send an email as a thank you. While there is nothing wrong with that at all, my feeling is that a letter or card that is hand written and mailed is a gesture that most don’t use in 2017. When a funder receives something in the mail, it feels very intentional and special.

  • Thank You #2 – Social Media

    Thanking your funder on social media is also an effective approach. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn might be typical places where you can recognize a funder. You might take and post a picture of staff, or write a short note of appreciation that you post for all to see.

    An important piece to remember is that many funders also have social media platforms they use, so it is important to remember to include their address or “handle” in your post. For example, if you wanted to get our attention on Twitter, you might start your tweet with “@GrantsEdge,” so we will be notified and know you have recognized us or included us in your post. This is also a great way to have more people see your post, as the funder may decide to respond or retweet, which then brings your message to the attention of their followers as well.

  • Thank You #3 – Video

    Saying thank you through video is one of my favourite ways to recognize and let a funder know their financial investment is making a difference. A video will take more time and effort, but can be an effective tool. Most people love watching short videos, and it won’t be something funders receive very often.

    Be sure to keep your video short and concise so it doesn’t take a significant investment of time on your part to produce, but also know that videos any longer than two minutes, unless overly compelling, can begin to feel long.

    I came across a great example of the Nature Conservancy saying thank you to their funders through a video. Here is the YouTube link if you’d like to check it out.

  • Thank You #4 – Phone Calls

    Picking up the phone and speaking with someone seems like a bit of a lost art. A verbal thank you allows for the opportunity to more fully express your gratitude, as the funder will have the chance to hear your tone and expression. Also, because a phone conversation allows for two-way communication, it can provide the opportunity to further the relationship you have with your funder.

    If your funder appreciates phone calls, you may want to even consider a phone update to provide a few details about milestones achieved or outcomes reached. A phone update lets a funder know you are serious about the investment they have made in your project and that you want them to be involved. That is a great way to say thank you.

  • Thank You #5 – Personal Invitation

    One of the best ways for a funder to really understand you, your organization, your participants, and the project or program is to see it and experience it first hand. If you have the opportunity to invite your funder for a short visit, that can provide a great opportunity to say thank you.

    Take them on a tour, invite them to a grand opening, ribbon cutting, or holiday open house, and let them sit in on your program as it runs so they have the chance to meet the people from your community and more completely understand the service that is being offered to support them.

    If a funder does join you, be sure to prepare your staff and participants in advance so they can be ready to share their own personal thank you.

  • Thank You #6 – Annual Report

    Many organizations produce an annual report to highlight the activities and accomplishments of the past year. This report can be an ideal place to say thank you to a funder and to acknowledge their support. You may choose to write a short article or update on the project they funded so all of your stakeholders understand their involvement.

    If you decide to use the annual report as a way to say thank you, be sure to obtain the most up-to-date branding requirements of the funding organization to be sure you are using the right logo, printing the full and correct name of the organization, and using the appropriate colours.

    Be sure to send the funder a copy so they can see the end product.

  • Thank You #7 – Website

    If your organization has one, you may choose to recognize a funder directly on your website. You might include them on a “partners” page, on a page related specifically to the program they are supporting, or on a page that highlights news and events.

    Again, be sure you know their branding requirements to make sure you have represented them appropriately.

  • Thank You #8 – Impact Report

    Many funders will require a final report to be written at the conclusion of the funding timeframe to provide an update on the overall impact of the project. As part of the report, find a way to thank them for the difference their financial support has made on your organization.

    If you are not required to complete a final report, I encourage you to provide them with one anyway. It doesn’t have to be long, but can be used to outline the overall impact of the project by providing both quantitative and qualitative data and may also highlight the next steps that will be taken to move the program or project ahead.

A Few Final Thoughts About Saying Thank You

Saying thank you to your funder is the right thing to do. Without their investment, your organization would not be able to accomplish some of its goals. Finding intentional and creative ways to recognize them and show your gratefulness will go a long way in solidifying your relationship.

Take multiple opportunities to say thanks, be genuine in the way you express it, and be incredibly thoughtful. I always encourage my kids to put themselves in the shoes of other people in their lives so they have a greater understanding, feeling, and perspective for their situation. I would encourage you to do the same with your funder. As you look for ways to say thank you, be sure to understand the role they play, their goals and objectives as an organization, and the fact that they are human and will respond positively to many of the same things you do.

Have you thanked a funder recently? Do you need a different strategy for recognizing funders? Don’t wait. Choose one of these eight ideas, or come up with one of your own, and start recognizing funders for the amazing work they are doing in partnering with you to make a difference.