How to Honor Recurring Donors on Their Birthdays

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How to Honor Recurring Donors on Their Birthdays

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Erica Waasdorp

May is my birthday month, so I’ve been tracking what’s coming into my mailbox and email inbox from friends, family, businesses and nonprofits.

Birthdays are very powerful opportunities to recognize your recurring donors, yet not that many nonprofits do this. In my mind, birthdays and anniversaries are dates that should be part of your monthly donor stewardship plan.

Take a lesson from businesses. I’m getting birthday messages from my favorite bakery, from my favorite coffee shop, my chiropractor, my dentist and others.

Of course, it’s critical that you know the donor’s birthday. The anniversary date you already have in your donor database.

There are overlays and demographic updates available, but sometimes they only provide the birthday month. That’s OK. You can work around that and send something at the beginning of the month.

All it takes is a simple request for birthday information. Christmas Tree Shops asked me one question. It took me all of 10 seconds to complete the survey — directly from an email request.

Granted, as a nonprofit, you may not have much in terms of a birthday reward. But for most donors, getting something special on their birthday or their anniversary is impressive enough. Just the fact that you took the time to think about them, they’ll remember for sure.

Sending something via email is great. Sending something by mail is even better. Think of ways that you can make the donor feel extra special:

  • A happy birthday video.
  • A happy anniversary video.
  • A personal-looking and -feeling email.
  • A post card.
  • A special card.

But, the key thing with this piece of your recurring donor stewardship: There should not be a request for money. This is also not the time to include a request to leave you in their will (no matter how tempting this might be).

Religious organizations tend to ask the donor to return any special prayer intentions.

I give to about 50 nonprofits on a recurring basis. I’ve seen just a few anniversary cards, especially from small organizations. And I’ve seen just a few birthday cards and birthday emails. So plenty of room to add yours. So, review what you know about your recurring donors.

The next time you send a survey, ask your donors for their birthdays. They may tell you, they may not, and that’s OK. But for the birthdays you do have — or receive upon request — create a special recognition opportunity that’s truly all about the donor.

This is the one day that’s not tied to a giving day or a special holiday. It’s all about your donor.  What a great opportunity to say “thank you” for their ongoing recurring support.

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