Gratitude comes in all shapes and sizes. Whether your method of choice is an email, a letter, or a phone call; those two little words —thank you— go a long way to brightening someone’s day and making them feel appreciated.
A heartfelt, sincere gift acknowledgment can be the difference between a first-time donor and a lifelong donor. The best acknowledgments engage donors, show them what their donation will do, and gives them confidence that their gift was well placed.
4 Qualities of Memorable Donor Thank Yous
Go beyond “thank you” with these tried and true ways of expressing your donor gratitude. Send thank you messages that are:
Your donors are friends of your organization. Being personal, warm, and authentic with them is essential to the longevity of your relationship. Send updates of your work and how their support makes it possible. Take the time to customize your thank you letters, using the segmentations you’ve created in your donor management system.
Donors want to know that their dollars matter, so tell them what you did with their money. Share a story that highlights how a donor’s gift is making a difference. Invite your local donors to tour your facility or visit a program site. If possible, arrange for them to meet some of the people you serve. There’s nothing like having an unforgettable experience to make a cause tangible.
Sending photos or videos of your work is a great way to create a strong, emotional connection with your donors. Vary who the thank you comes from. Notes from volunteers, community members, or someone helped by the gift can be just as powerful as a message from your executive director.
Your donors make your work possible. Give them proper credit. List the accomplishments they’ve made possible and put them front and center in all of your outreach. As you write your thank you letters, make it about them and the difference you are making together.
4 Things to Avoid in a Thank You
Now that you’ve mastered the “do’s” of saying thank you, here are some “don’ts” to keep in mind. Avoid thank yous that are:
All About You
Letters that are all about your organization and the work you do risk sounding boastful, rather than emotionally connecting the donor to the cause. Focus on your appreciation of the donor and their gift, so your thank you message is just that: a message of thanks.
A quick turnaround on your part shows the donor that their gift was valued. Use your fundraising software to generate the email and direct mail thank you messages. Set aside time every week to produce and send your thank yous. If your donor intake process doesn’t allow for a thank you to be delivered quickly, it’s time to make a change.
Thanking donors should not be complex or time-consuming. Expedite your thank you process with templates for each version of your thank you emails and letters that you can tailor to specific donors. This will help you avoid having to start from scratch each time. Create one for major donors, first-time donors, events, etc. Discuss with your executive director about her or his involvement in the donor thank you process. Which letters do they want to personally sign or add hand-written notes to?
Your Final Contact
After the thank you, keep your donors involved and engaged. Add them to your newsletter list, invite them to special events, send them holiday greetings, and give them the opportunity to connect with you if they have any questions. This should be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
How will you say thank you? Download our guide, “How to Write Better Donor Thank Yous,” for more insights into donor acknowledgments, samples of unique ways to thank your donors, and a template to craft your own memorable thank you messages.