December 21, 2023
Estimated Read Time: 5 min.

Strat Labs’ Best Practices for Thanking Donors

Expressing gratitude to donors is crucial for building and maintaining positive relationships. The goal is to make donors feel appreciated, valued, and connected to your organization’s mission, so it’s important to tailor your thank-you messages to align with your organization’s culture and donors’ preferences. In doing so, organizations demonstrate a commitment to fostering a sense of belonging and lay the foundation for a sustained and mutually beneficial partnership. 

This personalized approach to gratitude ensures that donors feel seen and heard and recognized as integral contributors to the realization of shared goals. They’re an integral part of achieving your mission and are right alongside you for the journey. It may seem like a small aspect compared to your macro fundraising goals, but taking the time to ensure your donors feel appreciated goes a long way.


Here are some best practices for thanking a donor for their donation:

Timeliness: Thank donors promptly after receiving their donation. A timely response (within 2 weeks) shows that you value and appreciate their support.


Personalization: Personalize your thank-you message by addressing the donor by name. Reference specific details about their donation or past support to show that you recognize and remember their contributions.


Express Sincerity: Be genuine and sincere in your appreciation. Let donors know their contribution’s impact on your organization’s mission and goals.


Share Impact: Communicate how the donor’s contribution will be used and the impact it will have. Provide specific examples or stories that highlight the difference their support makes.


Multichannel Thank-You: Consider using various channels to express gratitude, such as personalized letters, emails, phone calls, or even video messages. Different donors may prefer different communication methods.


Recognition: Acknowledge donors publicly if they have agreed to be recognized. Feature their names on your website, in newsletters, or at events. This not only shows appreciation but also recognizes their generosity.


Provide Updates: Keep donors informed about the progress of projects or initiatives funded by their donations. Regular updates reinforce the idea that their contributions are making a meaningful difference.


Involve Beneficiaries: Involve beneficiaries or recipients of your organization’s services in expressing gratitude. This adds a personal touch and demonstrates the real-world impact of the donor’s support.


Show Long-Term Appreciation: Don’t limit your appreciation to the immediate acknowledgment of a donation. Periodically express gratitude to donors throughout the year, even if they have yet to recently contribute. This reinforces a sense of ongoing partnership.


Customize for Major Donors: For major donors, consider personalized gestures such as handwritten notes, phone calls from key staff members, or invitations to exclusive events. Tailor your approach to the level of the donor’s contribution.


Feedback Loop: Encourage donors to share their thoughts, feedback, and suggestions. This creates a feedback loop that can strengthen the relationship and help you improve your stewardship efforts.


Recognition Levels: If your organization has different giving levels, recognize donors based on their contribution level. This adds a sense of exclusivity and acknowledges the varying degrees of support.


By adhering to these best practices, organizations can ensure that donors feel not only valued but also deeply connected to the mission they support. Nonprofits that go beyond transactional interactions will build a community of committed supporters who are genuinely invested in their success.


If you are in need of support or tips on additional donor recruitment, retention, and cultivation strategies, contact our team of experts today!

Receive the latest insights monthly.

Our monthly lab report will feature stories about Strat Labs’ Changemakers, industry information, best practices for powering your purpose, digital marketing and branding tips for any size budget, and how to tap into your organization’s community. We promise to keep it light, useful, and funny. Always funny.