Jun 23, 2022

Donor Appreciation: Saying “Thank You”


Sharing appreciation is essential to show donors you care, whether it’s their first donation or their hundredth. When someone gives money and time to your organization, you enter into a stewardship phase to cultivate an ongoing relationship with that donor or volunteer. There are many things you can do to nurture your relationship, including sharing your heartfelt thanks.

Continue reading for different ways to thank donors and make them feel like a valued part of your organization.

Things to Include in Every Thank-You Letter

When writing a thank-you letter, there are five things you should always include:

  1. The donor’s name with the proper title
  2. A message saying thank you
  3. Some specific information about the gift
  4. A short summary of how it contributes to your organization’s mission
  5. A final thank-you message

These things apply to both handwritten and virtual thank-you letters, but letters are not the only way to share your thanks. Some other ways to say thank you might include:

  • Hosting a dinner or gala.
  • Creating a commemorative plaque or sign.
  • Mentioning donors on social media.
  • Providing behind-the-scenes access.
  • Calling donors individually.
  • Sending small gifts or gear from your organization.

8 Tips for Sending Thanks to Donors

The following are eight tips for how to say thank you to a donor:

1. Have a Quick Turnaround

Sending a thank-you message months after the fact may not have much of an impact on your donors. Timeliness is an important factor when sending thanks to monthly donors. If you accept virtual donations through your website or another fundraising source, be sure to attach an immediate thank-you message in the payment confirmation section to show your appreciation.

You might also send emails or text messages right after someone gives money to your organization to share your gratitude with them.   

2. Personalize the Message

You can use email marketing software to personalize messages to your donors. Even if you have a large donor list, you can easily craft personalized messages using this software. You can program the software to insert the recipient’s name and title automatically, as well as a personalized message that even includes their donation amount and other personal information.

Recipients are more likely to open and read an email addressed directly to them rather than a generic “Dear Donor” or “Dear Friend.” 

3. Be Sincere

Your organization’s mission is important to you, and you probably have a genuine interest in furthering your cause. When sharing gratitude with donors, be as sincere in your thanks as you are about your mission. For emails and letters, use language that projects empathy, compassion, and respect for the donor.

When calling or speaking with donors to show thanks, ask about their reasoning for donating and any history they have with the cause you support. Showing a genuine interest in their lives can go a far way in building stewardship with donors.

4. Be Specific

Specificity is also an important quality in sharing thanks with donors. Be specific about their gift when sharing your appreciation — donors like to know that you pay attention to their contributions. For example, instead of sending a generic thank-you message to all your donors, be specific about their contributions and how they helped or will help your mission. 

You might even mention specific programming their donations made possible. While it’s not always possible to let donors know exactly where their money goes, especially if you have many programs and drives going on at the same time, doing so will make them feel much more connected to your organization.

5. Send a Handwritten Note

In a world of technology and typing, the art of a handwritten note is quickly dying out. That also makes them more powerful than ever. Using a handwritten note to share thanks with your donors is a painstaking process, but it can have an enormous impact. Writing notes by hand conveys a sense of personalization and authenticity that a typed or emailed letter cannot achieve.

If you send gifts or longer donor letters, consider adding a smaller handwritten note to keep that personal touch. Short notes will take less time to compile, but they still convey the same kindness and personal attention. For large donors that make a big difference in your organization, you might also get the entire board and staff to sign the letter to show their thanks.

6. Show Public Appreciation

You can also publicly announce appreciation to show donors you’re thankful for their contribution. If you’re having a fundraising drive, consider live-tweeting or live-streaming to shout out donations and donors as they come in. You can also post your donation progress on social media to encourage more people to help you reach your goal.

Another way to show public appreciation is to create tangible displays, such as plaques or signs. If an individual or group offers a particularly large donation, you can create a plaque to honor their contribution. Alternatively, you can create “donor classes” to commemorate everyone who donated that year.

7. Say Thanks in a Video

Another way to share your gratitude with donors is to create a thank-you video. In a video format, you can share more information about your organization’s mission and actually show donors visually the impact of their contributions. You can bring a camera into the office — whether you use a phone camera or a professional video camera doesn’t matter — to share behind-the-scenes looks at your organization.

You can also take videos of the various projects you’re working on to demonstrate how the money you raise can help support your work in the community.

8. Invite a Response

At the end of your thank-you message — whether written, typed, or in video form — you should always invite a response from your donors. You could ask them to write back or post on social media how your organization impacts them and why they’re passionate about your mission. 

It’s also important to ask for feedback from donors to continually improve your organization. Consider including a short survey or response form in your thank-you communications so donors have an opportunity to contribute their thoughts and ideas.

Keep Track of Your Donors With GiveSmart

Nonprofit fundraising is a complex process, making tools like fundraising software an essential feature to reach your goals. GiveSmart’s comprehensive fundraising platform is the solution to support your mission. With our solution, you can host virtual and hybrid fundraising events, manage campaigns and individual events, and support mobile donations. 

Contact us today for a demo of our fundraising software solution.


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