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6 Effective Ways to Thank Donors for a Lasting Relationship

Rohita Javangula

Year-end giving is about more than just soliciting donations. It’s a time to thank your most loyal supporters and make all donors, new and old, feel appreciated. When done well, these expressions of gratitude can build a lasting relationship with donors, leading to continued involvement.

When it comes to giving thanks, there’s plenty that can be done to acknowledge donors and nurture your relationships with supporters. To that point, we’ve compiled 6 effective ways to thank donors this giving season.



1. Send a Letter

Plenty of nonprofits use mailers to request donations, so why not turn it around and mail thank you letters to your donors! These handwritten notes may seem small but it helps leave a lasting impact as emails can get buried away in inboxes. Some tips to set your thank you letter apart include:
  • A note not only thanking the donor but demonstrating the impact their donation has - donors like to know that their hard earned money is at work.
  • A compelling image that draws them in and stands out
  • A call-to-action - you don’t have to stop at just the thank you, you can use the note as an appeal to give again or convert to sustainer giving

Take a look at this beautiful mailer from World Bicycle Relief below. It contains a beautiful image and a brief amount of text demonstrating impact!

World Bicycle Relief




2. Give a Shout Out

Donors like to be recognized for their work. With permission, why not share a list of your top donors on your website? This is an easy to way to show some love to the people that further your organization’s mission. Experiment with highlighting sustainers or people that give over $100. Try dedicating one page of your website to naming the people and organizations that have contributed. Added creativity bonus: Use a tier system to both encourage donors to give more and appreciate those that have.

Union of Concerned Scientists does this through their “Henry Kendall Society Members.” Donors can gain membership by giving a gift of $1000 or more. Members gain access to unique benefits such as conferences, targeted updates, recognition in the annual report and more.

Union of Concerned Scientists

The Reproductive Health Access Project features some of their donors in a donor spotlight. This is a great, personalized way to send some donor love on a personal level while also engaging with potential new supporters! ReproductiveHealthAccess


3. Use the Power of Social Media

There are dozens of ways to be creative on social media. Go beyond just a standard thank you image! Try creating a simple gif around holidays or special occasions thanking your donors and supporters. It’s a small measure but it can go a long way in making donors feel appreciated.

Added extra: link the gif to your donation page so followers who haven’t yet donated have the chance! This example gif by the United Nations Foundation is simple, clean, and effective. It has a call-to-action to donate while also remaining eye catching and engaging!




4. Compose a Letter from your CEO or President

Have your CEO/President of your organization write a thank you letter on your website. It doesn’t have to be long or overly complicated - just a few paragraphs of heartfelt appreciation!

This example from PBS kicks it off on a high note talking about all there is to celebrate while listing a few key accomplishments of the season and then transitioning to looking ahead and new projects coming up! This is the perfect combination of thanking donors for what they’ve helped achieve while also keeping them engaged for the future!


Take your thank you a step further by turning it into a video. The Brady Campaign does a great job of showing their appreciation through this video featuring staff members and members of their leadership thanking donors and supporters for all their hard work throughout the year.




5. Keep Your Donors Informed

If someone is donating to your organization that means they’re interested in what you do. Keep them in the loop and let them know about your successes, your challenges, and what you’re working on.

One way to do this is through a newsletter. Create a newsletter targeted specifically to your donors. Let them know about upcoming fundraising campaigns going on and updating them on causes they might have donated to.

The Blue Green Alliance sends out this simple but effective monthly newsletter. This newsletter contains informational pieces about current events related to their work, member news, and event updates.

Blue Green Alliance




6. Tell A Story

While achieving your fundraising goals is amazing, instead of focusing on dollars earned talk about impact achieved! Share a quote from one of your beneficiaries, use an infographic representing accomplishments, or use a powerful photo. There are a lot of ways to tell your story that go beyond just the numbers.

The National Foster Youth Alliance features “Youth Stories” as a section on their website. This is a powerful section showcasing the direct impact of donations.



Aim High does a great job of telling their story at the micro level. In fact, they get bonus points for even having a section on their page entitled “Our Impact” with everything from student stories to an evaluation of their success!



With these suggestions in mind we hope you’re buzzing full of creative ways to show some love to your donors. Have any ideas or examples of how you thank your donors? Send them our way!

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Topics: fundraising, donors