The donor’s gift is a spark. It has the power to start a fire, to illuminate the dark, to warm the cold. But if they can’t see the flame, if they can’t feel the heat, they’ll ask, “Did my gift even matter?”

You must extinguish that question. Pour water on it. Don’t let it see the light of day.

Start with a “thank you.” But not a whisper in the wind, make it a shout from the rooftops. Let your gratitude be a lighthouse, bright and unwavering. Let it beam back to the donor, a clear signal: “Your spark has been received.”

But the lighthouse is just the beginning. The real magic happens in the journey that follows, the story of how their spark became a fire.

Show them the impact. Show them the warmth, the light, the change their spark ignited. Paint a vivid picture. Show them the families huddled around their fire, the students reading by their light, the communities changed by their heat.

And in this endeavor, be the town crier, not the hermit. Over-communicate. Send letters, share stories, post pictures. Each piece a fragment of the puzzle, together creating a clear image of their fire.

The dance between gratitude and impact is a delicate one. Master it, and you won’t just have a donor. You’ll have a partner, a believer, a firestarter.

And when they ask, “Did my gift even matter?” they’ll already know the answer. It’s in the faces warmed by their fire, the pages read by their light, the lives changed by their heat. Their spark mattered, it made a difference, it started a fire. And they’ll be ready to spark another.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Brand & Community at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2024 Stephen Boudreau.