When it comes to school fundraising, it's not just the dollar signs that matter. Whether it's a small donation, an act of kindness, or a more substantial contribution, every gift has the power to make a difference in your school community.
An often-overlooked but important aspect of fundraising is thanking the generous donors who keep your private school thriving. After all, we know that a little appreciation can go a long way, especially when it's expressed in a creative and heartfelt manner.
But your school can’t raise money and grow at a sustainable rate without attracting and retaining donors. One report places the retention rate for a single, first-time donor around 20%, but for repeat donors, that number is around 60%.
Therefore, it's safe to assume the creative “thank-you” your school provides can increase the likelihood that a donor will give again.
It’s time to put the "fun" in fundraising and leave a lasting impression— here are some school fundraising ideas and ways to show your gratitude.
1. Thank-You Flash Mob
Coordinate a surprise flash mob performance by students and staff to express your gratitude to donors. Record the performance and share it on your school's website, social media channels, and through email, showcasing the creativity and enthusiasm of your school community.
2. Gratitude Scavenger Hunt
How often do your donors actually get to see all the great content across your school website? Create a virtual scavenger hunt on your site with clues that lead to stories, images, or videos showcasing the impact of donor contributions.
3. Donor Appreciation Day
Organize a special day dedicated to celebrating and thanking donors. Share updates, photos, and videos on social media and your school website, highlighting the festivities and expressing gratitude for all their contributions.
The Summit Country Day School spends time writing personalized “thank you notes” to donors during its annual Thank A Donor Day. It’s great content for social media, and it’s sure to bring a smile to all the individuals who were kind enough to make a gift to the school.
4. Donor-Student Pen Pals
Pair donors with students who have benefited from their support, and initiate a pen pal program where they can exchange letters or emails. This is a great personal connection that can help donors (especially first-time donors) better understand the impact of their gifts.
5. Social Media Takeover
Invite a donor or a group of donors to "take over" the school's social media accounts for a day. They can share their reasons for giving, personal stories, or express gratitude for your school community's support.
6. Community Stories
Reach out to alumni, families, and grandparents — whoever has benefited from donor-supported programs or scholarships and ask them to share their experiences. Publish these stories or videos on your school’s website, across social media channels, and in email communications, highlighting the long-term impact of donor relations.
For many, being asked to provide a quote or story about the importance of giving can be an honor — a gift in itself. Franklin Road Academy has a “Meet Our Donors” page featuring the testimonials of parents, families, and alumni about the impact of their gifts, and in-depth profiles about their reasons for giving.
7. Interactive Thank-You Quiz
Develop a fun and engaging online quiz related to the school, its programs, or the impact of donations. Share the quiz on social media and the school website, encouraging donors to participate and learn more about how their gifts make a difference.
Holderness’s Giving Day was a hit — but did you know just how successful it was?! More than 1,650 donors came together to contribute more than $595,000 to the Holderness experience, and that meant the school would be paying it forward and committing more than 1,650 hours of service in the local community. Quiz your community about some of the mind-blowing stats about your successful annual giving campaigns so you can celebrate and give thanks, together!
8. Personalized Thank-You E-Cards
Design custom e-cards (or emails) from teachers, students, and parents, featuring your programs or school projects that were made possible by the donors. Include a heartfelt thank-you message and send these e-cards via email to each donor.
9. Customized Donor Report
Prepare a digital donor report highlighting the achievements and milestones made possible by their support. Include photos, quotes, and statistics to demonstrate the impact of their gifts. Then, share the report via email and provide a link on your school’s website.
Westridge School’s stunning annual report website has it all, including heartful photos and stories of appreciation from students and staff. Supported by its donor report, the micro-site captures the essence of what a gift the Westridge School means and the legacy it will have on the students.
10. Thankful Thursdays
Dedicate one day each week, such as Thursday, to post a series of thank-you messages, photos, or videos on social media, highlighting different donors and their impact on the school community. Use a specific hashtag, like #ThankfulThursday, to create some recognition.
11. Donor-Featured Podcast
Launch a podcast series featuring interviews with donors, discussing their motivations, personal stories, and connections to the school. Share the episodes on the school website, social media channels, and email.
Among the topics covered on Baylor School’s podcast, “The Quadpod,” is an episode entitled “The Gift of Giving.” Students, teachers, and gift recipients are interviewed about giving back to communities, and how a gift’s potential can make a positive difference in the world. Asking a donor to join your school’s podcast to share their thoughts about giving can be a rewarding experience that helps carry the themes of your mission too!
12. Donor Appreciation Playlist
Collaborate with students and staff to curate a playlist of songs that express gratitude, appreciation, or inspiration. Share the playlist with donors through email, social media, or a dedicated page on the school website.
13. "Behind the Scenes" Series
Produce a series of videos or articles highlighting the "behind the scenes" aspects of donor-supported projects, such as the planning, execution, and impact of giving campaigns. Share the content on your school’s website, social media channels, and in email communications.
Culver Academies pulled the curtain back on its successful Day of Giving Campaign, an effort that generated $2,295,000 worth of donations to the school! A news story complete with photos and details about the phone-a-thons, giving challenges, and social media efforts showcased all the participation from alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and supporters.
14. Donor-Themed Social Media Challenges
Organize social media challenges, such as a gratitude-themed photo contest or a "pay-it-forward" challenge, encouraging your school community to participate and tag donors in their posts.
A heartfelt “thank you” can go a long way in your school’s fundraising efforts. Thinking creatively and with school spirit can help maximize the impact on your donors, and encourage them to keep giving year after year.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Connor has spent the last decade within the field of marketing and communications, working with independent schools and colleges throughout New England. As Finalsite’s Senior Content Marketing Manager, Connor plans and executes marketing strategies and digital content across the web. A former photojournalist, he has a passion for digital media, storytelling, coffee, and creating content that connects.