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How Do You Say “Thank You”?

As the close of the year approaches, end-of-year giving is sure to ramp up. And as your organization begins to receive these donations, you’ll want to be sure you have a solid plan in place to thank your donors properly.

Of course, thanking your donors is likely a given for your organization – but how you do so could be a factor in what sets you apart as they consider who they will continue supporting in the future. With that in mind, we’re going to take a deeper dive into this basic, yet critical to-do for your nonprofit, exploring what makes an effective “thank you” and a few ways you might consider doing so.


Five Components of an Effective “Thank You”

Many in the nonprofit space seem to agree on a handful of key components when it comes to providing a meaningful thank you to your donors.

First, it should be timely. It is important for donors to know that their contribution was important to and appreciated by your organization, and that reaching out to let them know that was a priority for you and your team.

Next, thank yous should be authentic. It is easy to create a cookie-cutter, copy-and-paste template that you can send to every donor (and that may be appropriate for some smaller, recurring donations, as you do want to be mindful of your team’s time), but there are some instances in which you’ll want to make sure your thank you is both personal and genuine.

Third, make sure your thank you explains the impact that their gift had on your organization. Connecting their donation to something tangible and meaningful to your organization’s mission will allow them to see the purpose being tied to the money they gave and will likely endear them to your organization in the future.

Lastly, they should be frequent and regular. Of course, you’ll want to send an immediate thank you after a donation, but you should also send other regular demonstrations of your appreciation, whether that be for a financial gift, their time or service, or simply for following along and caring about your organization’s mission.


A Few Ways to Say Thank You

With these principles in mind, let’s now look at a few ways that you can thank the people who support your nonprofit – ranging from quick and simple to a bit more complex and involved.

Keep It Simple

Sometimes the best ways to show your appreciation are the simplest. Consider these strategies when you’re thanking someone for a small to medium-sized gift, showing general or annual gratitude for someone’s support of your organization, or if time and other resources simply don’t allow for something more. As we’ve said, any form of thank you sends the right message to your supporters.

  • A traditional thank you note (handwritten or digital)
  • Personal phone call
  • Small gift or organization-specific swag

Donor Recognition

Another, perhaps more unique, way to say thank you to your donors is by providing some sort of recognition for the ways in which they’ve given to your organization – whether that be financial, their time, etc. Again, this is an easy way to demonstrate their importance to you. There are a number of ways by which you can do this, but we’ve listed just a few below.

  • Donor Spotlight: This can be done on your social media page, in a monthly newsletter, or on your website by simply sharing a picture and the ways in which that person is involved with your organization. If you have the time and resources, you could also create a video featuring that person, allowing them to share their personal experiences and why investing in your nonprofit is meaningful to them. No matter how you choose to do this, it can be a low-cost, high-impact way to show your appreciation for your supporters.
  • Donor Appreciation Wall: Like the donor spotlight, this is a tangible way to highlight several donors. This can simply be a place (perhaps in your office) with something like placards, engraved bricks, or stones displaying the names of donors or other meaningful contributors to your organization.
  • Annual Donor Awards: Donor awards highlight a smaller group of people but in a highly significant way. They allow you to honor those who are heavily involved with your organization, demonstrating publicly how and why their contributions have been impactful. These awards not only incline those people to continue with their involvement but also encourage others to consider how they may become even more involved.

Big Gestures

This last category is likely reserved for your major donors, or people who have been involved with your organization for a long time and in a very significant way. They will require major effort and resources from your organization, but they are a fantastic way to show your appreciation for some of your bigger supporters.

  • Office Tour/Donor Day: This is a way to allow your donors and supporters a look “behind the scenes.” They can get to know the staff of your organization and get a better sense of the work they’re supporting.
  • Annual Dinner or Gala: Oftentimes (since these events are fundraisers) existing donors are required to purchase a ticket to attend. But it may be worth considering if, as a show of appreciation, there are any attendees you would simply like to invite. They may treated as somewhat of a “guest of honor,” perhaps sitting with other key members of the organization, or even receiving one of the aforementioned awards.
  • Vision or Impact Trip: Maybe the most significant undertaking of all of the ideas listed here, a vision or impact trip allows your supporters a first-hand experience and look at the impact their contributions are making to the mission of your organization. Of course, this may take on many different forms depending on the what, where, and how of the work your nonprofit does, but whether it is across town or across the globe, showing your donors the ways in which their money is furthering your work is a fantastic way to show your appreciation.


How Should You Say Thank You?

Though there are many viable ways of saying thank you listed above, just like with any other “strategy,” it’s important to evaluate which one(s) best fit the needs and capacity of your organization. The choice you make may vary depending on your reason for providing a thank you, or may simply be based on what is feasible for your team at the moment.

However you choose to do so, though, remember that the most important part of saying thank you is simply that you do it. It may take many different forms, but communicating to those who support you how meaningful and appreciated their gifts are will help maintain and uphold the crucial relationship between you and your donors and allow you to continue the work and mission of your organization.