10 Strategies to Celebrate Nonprofit Donors on Valentine’s Day

Monterey Bay Aquarium shares the love with their donors.

Last year, you posted about sending donors valentines, which I came across a bit too late in the game, so I sent emails. But, this year, I kept that idea and planned for it, and sent handmade valentines to my top level donors. I felt like I was in 2nd grade with my glue stick and doilies, but the response has been amazing! Not only did my colleagues get in on the action, but I have received nothing but great comments via email and phone calls. Definitely a practice I’ll do every year. Thanks for the great idea! 

— Rebekah Cross, Special Gifts Officer, Guiding Eyes for the Blind

I love a good celebration.

And nothing is more worth celebrating than a holiday, and your donors!

You’ve still got time to send a little love your donors’ way! It’s been a tough, and for many a lonely, isolating and “othering” few years. Chances are good we’re still in for a long season of time during which donors could really use a little extra love from you. Many folks — your donors included — are love starved right now.

Why might this be something for you to consider, amidst all the other “to-do’s” on your plate?

If you don’t do a lot more donor loving, you’re going to do a lot more donor losing.

I hope by now you know donor retention is the name of the game. It costs so much more to acquire a new donor than to keep an existing one. Yet too few nonprofits have serious, intentional donor stewardship programs in place. Because of that, on average, nonprofits lose roughly  8 out of 10 first-time donors and close to 6 out of 10 of all donors.

Don’t be one of those “take the money and run” organizations!

If donors only hear from you when you want something from them, they’re not likely to give more. Or even give again.

Be generous! Show donors how much their support means to you.

Really, donor love should be like breathing for you. In and out. Out and in.

  • They love you, and show you (usually by giving a monetary gift).
  • You love them, and show them (usually by offering an intangible “feel good” like prompt, personal and repeat gratitude).

You’ll be amazed at how a little love can go a long way.

This year why not dedicate Valentine’s Day to giving, not asking?

If you can’t send valentines to every donor, select a segment or two.

Think about those donors for whom you’d like to show some special love, because they showed you some. Show them you noticed! They could be:

  • Major donors.
  • Monthly donors.
  • Donors who’ve given faithfully for five years or more.
  • Donors who increased their giving this year.
  • First-time donors of $100+.
  • Donors who also volunteer.
  • Board and committee members.

Pick your donors; then pick a stewardship strategy… and go!

10 Cool Valentine’s to Celebrate Your Donors

1. Channel your inner second-grader and cut out a big colorful construction paper heart.

Make your donor an old-fashioned valentine.

Make your donor an old-fashioned valentine.

Write a warm hand-written message (e.g., “We all love you, will you be our Valentine?” or “You have the biggest heart. XO”). Insert your Valentine into a colorful envelope that will get noticed in your donor’s mailbox. Shanon Doolittle shows you how to do it in this Movie Mondays video. If you happen to have clients who benefit from your donor’s gifts (e.g., actual second-graders, or even animals!), consider asking them to help make these valentines. Again, you don’t have to do this with every donor, but pick those for whom it will matter.

2. Host a Valentine’s Day “Loveathon.”

I just called to say I love you!

I just called to say I love you!

Ask board members or volunteers to come together to phone a subset of your donors to let them know how much they are loved. [If you have younger donors you can text them]. Your message can be super simple (suitable for leaving a quick message if you don’t reach someone): “I’m Claire, calling from XYZ Nonprofit, just to let you know we’re thinking of you fondly today because you have such a big heart. Your support means so much. Happy Valentine’s Day!” Give valentines to your volunteers while you’re at it – you know, heart-shaped cookies, pink punch, chocolate kisses and maybe some festive red, white and pink balloons with love notes attached. Make it a “feel good” party for your volunteers!

3. Make some spontaneous phone calls.

If you don’t have time to organize a group phonathon, you can still make a bunch of calls yourself (or with a team of your staff) to a targeted group of supporters. Feel free to leave a message if no one answers: “We’re thinking of you this Valentine’s Day, because you make the love happen all year round!  With all our hearts, we thank you!

4. Create a YouTube, Vimeo, Zoom or smart phone video to send your special donors some love.

Charity: Water created a bunch of amazing, super-fun and super-personal YouTube videos on the occasion of their fifth birthday. Adapt this idea for Valentine’s Day! Also see this one they did on Valentine’s Day on Vimeo. The Boys and Girls Club of Maury County sent this awesome email plus YouTube video valentine.

Click to see video above (I love this!). Why not borrow the idea and create one or two awesome Valentine videos to send your special donors? It’s so inexpensive now to create shareable video; anyone with a smart phone can make one.

5. Post a Valentine’s Day card, with a photo showing your donor’s impact, on your website.

Share it with your supporters via your e-newsletter, blog, Pinterest or Instagram board and/or other social media. Here are examples from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Humane Society; Amnesty International and Second Harvest Food Bank.

6. Tweet out a Valentine’s message or post a card to Facebook.

The Sphinx Music Organization wishes supporters Happy Valentine’s Day.

Make it visual. You can see some examples below. Also click on these links to more examples from Nonprofit Center and The Children’s Village. Plus you can find a number of other valentine tweets here [they aren’t all appropriate, but you’ll find some good ones you can steal from].

Valentine from SF-Marin Food Bank

A valentine created by Charity: Water.

 7. Send Valentine’s cards via email.

It’s best if you can make your own visual, preferably with a nod to your mission. However if time is getting away from you, you can always grab one from some of the free or inexpensive online card services like 123 greetings, american greetings or blue mountain [I’m not endorsing any particular service]. After all, it’s the thought that counts. Next year you can make your own.

8. Deliver a token gift from the heart.

These would be great gifts from an aquarium. I bet you can come up with something equally creative!

I like to bake, so when I worked in the trenches I often gave select donors home-made cookies.  One development director I know brings home-made truffles. I know someone else who likes to can fruit, so she brings little jars of jam.  Perhaps you have tons of fruit or vegetables in your yard? Bring a basket-full tied up with a red, pink or white lace ribbon. Or maybe a cutting from your garden in a cute red pot. The goal is not to spend a lot of money, but to show someone they’re in your thoughts.  Trust me, you will make someone’s day! These are gifts you can simply drop at your donor’s doorstep if you’re pressed for time and have a lot of dropoffs to make (or if you’re introverted).  But you can also knock on the door and use it as an opportunity to make a face-to-face connection.

9. Mail a Valentine Coupon.

If you work for an organization that operates a café, has performances or offers tours, you can include a coupon with your notes and greeting cards. Or you could even create your own “love coupon” where, rather than promising a kiss, a massage, or a night washing the dishes, you offer a big hug and a promise to fight your good fight!  If you want gifts, it’s nice to also give them.

10. Send valentines to all your monthly donors via email. 

This is easy, and packs a wallop. I love the emails sent to me by Vida Joven every month, each one dripping with love. The Valentine’s Day version tells me I am beautiful. Whose heart wouldn’t melt, just a little?


Vida Joven celebrates monthly donors on Valentine’s Day


Want some additional inspiration? Check out my Pinterest boards: Gratitude – Nonprofits Say Thanks and Zee Happy Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day is a terrible day to waste!

Keep Donor Love Flowing all Year to Keep More Donors!

Discover how simple gratitude can ignite donor growth.

Get my big fat Attitude of Gratitude Donor Guide if you really want to develop an organization-wide culture of showing your donors some love. It includes my popular Creative Ways to Thank Your Donors e-book, which you can also purchase separately if you just want some quick inspiration in addition to the ideas listed in this article.

As with all Clairification products, these guides come with my 30-day, no-questions-asked, 100% refund guarantee. You can’t lose. So… why not send a little more donor love this year?

I guarantee you, and your supporters, will be happy you did!

Selected images courtesy of Pinterest, Freedigitalphotos.net and Flickr









Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *