Recently, a client of My Philanthropy Team (MPT) asked one of our Philanthropy Specialists about the best way to say “thank you” to donors. Despite operating without fundraising staff, the organization had been receiving donations in the mail for years, including significant five-figure gifts that often went unacknowledged. When one donor called to ask why they haven’t received any communication about their donation, the organization knew it was time to get serious about their donor relations.  

Expressing gratitude to your donors is the key to building and maintaining relationships, demonstrating your organization’s transparency and accountability, and encouraging future giving. As we approach #GivingTuesday and the start of end-of-year campaigns, this is the perfect time to audit your acknowledgement process to ensure you’re making a lasting impression on your donors this giving season. All it takes are small but meaningful gestures to do this well! Here are seven tips for thanking and celebrating your donors:  

  • Refresh your thank you letter templates regularly (including your auto-generated emails) and make sure they are specific to your fundraising appeal. For example, your #GivingTuesday thank you note should be different from your general and end-of-year campaign acknowledgments. This is especially important for donors who may give multiple times per year.   
  • Send a handwritten thank you card. This is a timeless approach that still carries weight in our digital era. A handwritten note can feel more personal and heartfelt than a standard thank you letter. The note can come from the organization’s leadership, staff, or even clients (donors love this)!  
  • Call the donor to thank them directly. Like the tip above, making a phone call is a wonderful way to connect with donors directly and thank them for their gift. This is a simple yet worthwhile stewardship activity for volunteers or board members, and writing a brief script can make it even easier to execute.  
  • Create a personalized thank you video. With tools like ThankView, YouTube, and Vimeo, organizations are increasingly using videos to express their thanks in a visually compelling way. You can create short video messages featuring your team or beneficiaries, and as with everything, personalization adds a special touch. 
  • Send a social media shoutout. If your donors have a social media presence, you can thank them on your social media channels, giving them public recognition and visibility. Some donors would prefer to stay anonymous so be sure to check the donation guidelines before making any public acknowledgments.  
  • Share exclusive updates. Sharing exclusive updates or opportunities with donors can help them feel seen and heard within your organization. This can be done by providing exclusive behind-the-scenes updates, progress reports, or sneak peeks of upcoming projects or initiatives. You might even ask for their feedback or input in the process. 
  • Consider sending a customized gift. Finally, while not needed, you can consider sending small, meaningful gifts related to your cause, such as branded merchandise, photo books, or items/artwork made by clients you serve. There are plenty of no-cost and low-cost options out there, so get creative!  

Above all, the key to effective donor appreciation is sincerity. Regardless of the method you choose, the gratitude you express should always be genuine and tailored to match the preferences and expectations of your donors. Remember that honoring and celebrating your donors isn’t just a one-time gesture but an ongoing relationship-building process. Saying thank you in different ways throughout the year can foster stronger connections, inspire continued support, and ultimately, help you make a greater impact in the community.  

Need assistance? My Philanthropy Team is here to be your satellite fundraising team for all your development needs. We’re ready to jump in today to help with your year-end fundraising campaigns, donor stewardship programs, and so much more. Schedule a call today! 


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