7 easy things you can do to thank your donors

March 22, 2021
Reading Time: 3 minutes
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We all know that it is essential to say thank you. It is a magic word, after all.

Say thank you when someone opens a door for you. Say thank you when a cashier hands you your change. And most importantly, say thank you when someone donates to your organization.

We also know that you should thank your donors seven times.

You’ve done the work. You’ve set up an incredible thank you stream that includes a thank you in their automated receipt, a thank you a few days later via email, and a written letter that expresses your gratitude—and maybe even requests a second gift. (If you haven’t, drop us a note, we’d be happy to help!)

But you know what? So has everyone else.

So how do you stand out? How do you go beyond checking seven gratitude boxes and actually make your donors feel thanked?

We’ve compiled a list of our favorite ways to say thank you—including the ones that donors have told us they appreciated most. Feel free to use any of these, but remember to make them your own. A good thank you needs to feel authentic and be from the heart.

7 easy ways to say thank you to donors:

1. Drop a postcard in the mail.

You can support the USPS and make your donors feel appreciated at the same time. It doesn’t even have to be a branded postcard—a postcard from somewhere you’ve traveled or the city where your organization is based will work just fine. Handwritten mail is magic, and it will show your donor that you genuinely care.

2. Send them a book.

It can be one you’ve read recently or one that is related to your work (even tangentially). Include a personal thank-you note explaining that you thought your donor would enjoy the book. Maybe inscribe a short message in the jacket. Either way, they’ll think of you and your organization every time they pick it up.

3. Record a cell phone video.

Don’t be camera shy—this video isn’t going on national TV. Gather a few of your colleagues and send a short video saying thank you with lots of energy. Be sure to use the donor’s name so that they know that it was made just for them.

4. Make thank you magnets.

Everyone’s fridge loves magnets. How many do you have on your fridge right now? Go, count. I’ll wait. For some reason, magnets are the last thing to get Mari Kondo’d in any house. (They definitely spark joy!) Add your organization to the mix and create a magnet that donors will walk by and see every time they open the fridge for a snack. They’ll use your magnet to hold up a picture of their family, and your organization will stay top of mind.

5. Send a photo.

When it comes to saying thank you, a picture really can be worth a thousand words. Share a photo of someone who has felt the impact of their donation—and go one step further by adding a short note on the back of the card. It will feel like it’s coming from a good friend, and I promise they’re going to remember.

6. Shoot a quick “feeling grateful for you” text message.

This one takes almost no work at all. We both know your phone is in your hand right now. Go on, pick it up. Send a short message to one of your donors and tell them that you’re grateful for their support. That’s it, nothing more complicated than that.

7. Host a Thank-a-thon.

Of everything on our list, this is the most complicated. It is also a ton of fun. Plan for an all-day staff and volunteer-led effort to call and thank all of your donors. Make lists, check them twice. Make a call, say thank you, end the call. (For real, only say thank you. Don’t make an ask.) Speak to them directly or leave a message— it takes 30 seconds and then you’re dialing the next donor. Here, I’ll write the script for you:

“Hi <INSERT DONOR NAME HERE>, this is <INSERT YOUR NAME HERE>. I’m calling from <INSERT ORGANIZATION NAME HERE>, and I just wanted to thank you for your recent donation. We are so grateful to have your support. Have a fantastic <DAY/WEEK/WEEKEND/HOLIDAY>! Buh bye now.”

Ian Haisley

Ian Haisley is the Chief Strategist at Swell+Good where he gets to help amazing organizations bring their stories to life. He's a lifelong learner, a dad, a serial walker, and a frequent consumer of tacos. He lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and 3 kids.
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