15 Ways to Thank Your Donors

When the dust settles on your fundraising campaign and your donors showed up to support you, the next stage of work begins: thanking your donors for their generous contributions.

After all, a thank you is the best marketing that isn’t marketing.  It shows your donors that you’re paying attention and their contributions matter, no matter how small. And if you can say thank you with a personal touch, that makes the message all the more meaningful.

Here are 15 simple ways to make your donor thank yous more personal.

1. Write a Thank You Card

One of the simplest ways to say thank you is one your parents drilled into you: write a thank you card!

Remember, the best thank yous are warm and personal, and there’s no better way to do that than a personalized note. This is not to be confused with a business letter, which is stiffer and formal. Nor does it need to be paragraphs of flowery gratitude–100 words or less will do the trick nicely.

That said, pay attention to wording. You can make this feel warm and personal even if you’re writing the note for thousands of donors.

2. Send Photos and Stories

Another great way to make your thank yous more personal is to loop the donor into the story. After all, their donation is a contribution to your organizations larger narrative, the support that makes your mission possible.

So, loop your donors in on the story you’re creating with their donation.

If you’re doing this with social media posts, for example, photos and videos are a great way to translate donations into stories. You can also include photos if you’re sending a physical note, or you can just tell a story.

This approach is fantastic for ongoing campaigns. Give your donors updates on the story as you thank them through the campaign. Tell stories with each major milestone you reach.

3. Pick Up the Phone

Want to give a personal touch to your donor thank yous? Nothing is quite as personal as a conversation. So pick up the phone and strike up a chat.

You may need to mobilize call volunteers to make this happen, but with a simple script and a bit of preparation, it’s a nice way to go a little bit further. It shows donors that you took the time out of your busy schedule to have a real person get in touch, and that’s meaningful in this day and age.

4. Show Appreciation on Your Site

If you’re not sure you want to mobilize volunteers, or you don’t have every donor’s phone number, a tried-and-true way to show your gratitude is to show your appreciation on your website.

While this approach is often viewed as impersonal, it doesn’t have to be. Create a section on your website to specifically acknowledge your donors, and treat your web copy like writing a thank you note.

5. Create a Thank You Video

Video has the power to capture imaginations. It’s kind of like a face-to-face interaction without having a direct interaction, since it gives donors the opportunity to read facial expressions and body language.

Depending on your time and production capacity, you can keep it simple with a recorded thank you from your team, or you can create a more detailed video thanking donors and illustrating what they’re contributing to. If you opt for the latter, bring on someone who has good video production skills.

6. Treat Each Donation as a Friendship

This isn’t so much a direct strategy as an overall approach that should be utilized at all times, especially for brand-new donors.

When a donor gives for the first time, no matter how small the donation, it’s the start of a new relationship that has the potential to last a lifetime. That doesn’t mean the donor will start giving big next month, but you don’t need them to. You’re building a relationship, and every little bit counts.

For small donors and first-time donors, take the time to send small, personalized notes to each donor acknowledging their support and thanking them for giving what they can. It’s a great way to show that every donation counts.

7. Send a Welcome Package

You can also go one step beyond a basic thank you and send a full welcome package to first-time donors.

You’re building a future relationship of giving, which means it’s important to start off on the right foot. That’s what the welcome package is for. Make sure to send it within two weeks of receiving the gift.

Welcome packages should include a thank you note and then some. Maybe you want a well-written story about your organization’s impact, a photo of your beneficiaries, and a small gift like a bookmark or t-shirt.

8. Host a Donor Appreciation Party

Want to thank your donors personally? Like, face-to-face personally? Why not host a donor appreciation party?

Events are a good way to foster personal relationships, even if you do a virtual event (provided that you host a good virtual event). Conversations should be the central point of the gathering, striking a careful balance between promoting your organization and making a personal connection.

9. Send Gifts or Tokens

Even if you’re not sending a first-time donor welcome package, you can still send gifts or tokens as signs of your gratitude.

These can be products you crafted at the start of your campaign, built around the campaign’s central theme. It could be anything from a sticker to a mug to bigger freebies. A good approach is to tier free gifts based on giving levels. That way, every donor gets appreciation, but bigger donors feel a level of appreciation equal to the size of their gift.

10. Donor Recognition Wall

Whether you do a digital donor recognition wall on your website or a physical recognition wall in your building, a recognition wall is a fantastic way to show the world (and your donors) your gratitude.

A physical recognition wall may be reserved for larger donors, but a digital recognition wall doesn’t have similar resource restrictions, which makes it a great opportunity to show appreciation for donors of all levels.

11. Design Memorable Experiences

If you need somewhere to start thinking about saying thank you, it’s always a good idea to go back to your roots. What does your organization do? What do you offer the world? Use that as your inspiration to craft an expression of gratitude that’s unique to you.

For example, if your organization helps animals, you can let donors pick an image of a paw print and personalize it with their name as their thank-you gift. The possibilities are only limited by your team’s creativity, and it’s an easy way to give a personal thank you.

12. Give Them a Social Media Shout-Out

Social Media Shout-Outs can be personalized if you approach them the right way, and it’s a low-cost way to show appreciation.

Start by making sure you know your donors’ social media handles. Then, you can get creative. You can tag them in social media posts, re-post their content that mentions your organization, or use hashtags.

The key is to be social. Use social media to build connections, not just check a box.

13. Leverage Your Annual Report

Not all donors will read your annual report even if it’s widely distributed, but it is still a good practice to thank your donors there.

Treat this like writing a thank-you note, even if you’ve already sent personalized thank-you notes to donors. This is a chance to show genuine appreciation–after all, your donors are the ones who allow you to show your successes in the annual report.

14. Craft a Donation Thank You Landing Page

A donation landing page is sort of a cross between a welcome package and an appreciation section on your website. In marketing, a landing page is a standalone web page created specifically for a campaign. In this case, it functions as your digital welcome package for donors.

This could be for new donors or longtime donors, depending on how you craft your landing page and what you want donors to do when they get there. Either way, try to make this as approachable as possible, thinking of it as an opportunity to generate relationships.

15. Offer Next Steps

Last but not least, you can pair a thank you message with next steps. This is not the same thing as asking your donors for new money ASAP.

Instead, treat this as an opportunity to tell your donors a story about where you’re going next thanks to their donation. Tell them where the campaign will go from here, where their donation will go, and how your organization will put their generosity to good use.

Let’s Connect the Dots on a More Personal Approach to Fundraising

At BrightDot, we believe that all elements of fundraising should be a little more personal. After all, fundraising isn’t magic or data–it’s about connecting the dots on your personal relationships so that you can motivate the people in your network to give. Our job is to help you get there.

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