06 Jan

Educator-to-Educator : Thanking Your Sponsors

thank youSponsors are vital to the growth and success of babywearing groups.  Carrier donations build our libraries; in-kind donations support our events and provide needed products and services; cash helps with anything and everything, making your life as a volunteer just that much easier.

Unfortunately we live in a busy world and often saying thank you gets lost in the shuffle following an event or donation.  Thanking donors doesn’t have to take a huge amount of time or effort and often it can be as simple as a gracious email or Facebook status update.  But going the extra mile to show appreciation will make it more likely that you receive help again next time you need it and will make you the kind of organization that other sponsors want to support in the future!

There is no right or wrong way to thank sponsors (except to not do it at all!) but in general you want sponsor acknowledgments to be heartfelt, visible, and personalized.

  • Heartfelt: The most meaningful thank you reflects genuine gratitude for a donation that met a specific group need.
  • Visible:  You want your thank you to be seen both by the sponsor you are thanking, by the people who their donation has benefited, and by people whose opinion of the donor might be improved by knowing that they supported your organization.
  • Personalized:  Whenever possible your thank you should be targeted based on the individual donation and sponsor to best reflect what they would appreciate and find meaningful.

 So who should you thank?  In a word, anyone who helps your group grow through donations of products or services.  Some sponsors you might consider thanking include: 

  • Manufacturers and businesses that donate carriers to your local group (of course!)
  • Venues that waive or discount site fees for meetings and events
  • Businesses and individuals who donate food or other supplies/products for special events
  • Businesses (and potentially individuals) who donate cash
  • Donors to raffles, silent auctions, or other fundraisers (including consultants who host fundraising parties on your behalf and donate all or part of their commission)
  • Professionals who donate services (such as legal or technological assistance)
  • National BWI sponsors (some companies donate cash that underwrites shipping and other expenses, especially during International Babywearing Week, so it is nice to thank them even if you did not receive a direct carrier donation).

There are an almost infinite number of ways to thank sponsors but here are a few suggestions (feel free to add more in the comments!): 

  • In Person.  This works best for sponsors with whom you have a personal relationship or who are in your local community.  Be sure to both thank the sponsor or donor privately and (when appropriate) also thank them publicly during meetings or events they have helped support.  Saying thank you is free and takes just a second so there is no reason not to say it freely and often.
  • Thank You Note.  They may be old fashioned but thank you notes never go out of style.  Consider recruiting volunteers so that each person only has to write a handful of notes, or try leaving note cards and pens out at a meeting and encouraging people to work on them while socializing.
  • Thank You Email.  We live in a digital age and a personalized thank you email can fill in for a written note especially when thanking donors outside of your local community or when the cost of a stamp is a major expense for your group.  Make your thank you emails special by including photographs of your group enjoying the donation or specific feedback from members about the donated product or service.
  • Social Media.  Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram provide a perfect platform for thanking sponsors because they are fast, free, and highly visible.  Choose whichever platforms your group typically uses and that you are comfortable with ideally a mix of places that will hit a diverse audience such as your own Facebook page or chatter group and the donor’s Facebook business page, Instagram, or a tweet using their hashtag.  During International Babywearing Week you can also use the #intlbabywearingweek tag to reach a broad audience.  You can also mobilize members to post “thank you” messages on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • Reviews.  A positive review can be the most powerful and meaningful way to say thank you to a donor or sponsor.  It is important to be honest and not leave a positive review of a product you don’t like simply out of gratitude, but many donors, especially carrier manufacturers, greatly appreciate honest feedback on their products written in a place where the general public can see it.  There are lots of options for where to leave a review.  Carrier companies may appreciate an Amazon.com product review or a review on their own website (if supported by their e-commerce platform).  Other great options including posting a short review on their Facebook business page, on TBW, on your groups’ blog, or on relevant Facebook discussion groups. Local companies may appreciate a review on Yelp! or other local business pages.  It is never a bad idea to ask your sponsor if they would like you to post a product review in a particular place.  Be sure to include a disclosure explaining that you received the donated product in exchange for a review if appropriate.
  • Blog/Website.  Finally, your blog or website provides an ideal platform to thank sponsors for their support.  Blog posts are normally searchable and the content stays visible longer.  Consider blog posts highlighting donations (either individually or in a group thanking event sponsors) or a tab on your website where you thank sponsors.
  • Give Back.  This is a great option if you get support from another non-profit such as a church, school, or library.  Many organizations (and some for-profit businesses) host activities like food drives, coat drives, clean up days, etc.  Find out if they could use some volunteers and ask your members to help out!

Here are some great examples of BWI chapters saying thank you!


Three examples of saying thank you in social media: from BWI of Central Virginia (on their own Facebook page), BWI of Oahu (on a donor’s business Facebook Page) and BWI of Greater Boston (on Twitter).  

boston

 

cva

 

oahu

 

Written by Catherine Dean

Master Babywearing Educator for BWI of Central Virginia and VP of Outreach and Programs for the Babywearing International Board of Directors

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