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Seven examples for showing appreciation and thanking donors.

People give to people and worthy causes too. They will give because they believe in your organization, and they can identify with your mission and goals. They know the people who are part of the organization, and they hold the same values.

A fundraising campaign can help an agency attain their goals while increasing knowledge and enthusiasm for their mission and vision. In addition, it can identify a whole new group of volunteers and leaders as well.

These campaigns will generate a commitment from volunteers and community leaders, and a renewed energy for serving your constituents. Many of the most beneficial elements of a campaign have nothing to do with money. Rather, a campaign will draw attention and increase visibility and support for your mission that will serve your organization for years to come.

There is an old Chinese custom that said you should thank someone seven times when they give you a gift. This might be thought of as a great standard to which fundraisers should aspire. There are few things more important than recognizing your donors.

Quite frankly, the idea of such an expansive program seems outside the reach for fundraising and development professionals whose time is already stretched to the breaking point. While saying “thank you” seven times may take a lot of effort, it can be managed if it is planned carefully.

Here are seven examples of thanking donors:

  1. The bookkeeper makes a quick phone call to let the donor know their check has arrived and has been entered.
  2. A brief, handwritten note from the development staff member.
  3. A typed thank you letter from the organization’s executive director.
  4. A typed letter from the board chair or campaign chairperson.
  5. A brief note from the volunteer who participated in the solicitation.
  6. Mention the donor’s name in the organization’s monthly newsletter or annual report.
  7. Invite all of your donors to a donor recognition event.

It is much more cost effective to retain donors than it is to secure new ones. For that reason alone, it is worth taking the time to express gratitude to those who have made contributions throughout the year to your agency. It is also important to remember that the price of a thank you is much less important than the sincerity of appreciation. (Hartsook, 2001)

Learn More: What every executive director needs to know about nonprofit fundraising.

There are so many ways to show appreciation and recognition, from notes to naming opportunities, from mugs to memorials, and everything in between. The most important thing is to understand the need to show authentic appreciation and to give donors the recognition they deserve. Donors who feel that their gifts are not taken for granted are more likely to continue and probably increase their giving. Not only that, but donors who experience this kind of heart-felt treatment, even after years of giving, are more likely to consider a bequest. (Hartsook, 2005)

When your airplane trip reaches its destination, you hear the pilot often say over the public address system, “We recognize that you have a choice when choosing airlines, and we thank you for choosing ours.” Your donors have a choice, as well. Recognizing their gifts as often as possible and in as any ways as possible insures they will continue to choose your cause when making their charitable decisions.


Gary Bernstein

Gary Bernstein currently serves as CEO of the Jewish Community Alliance of Northeastern Pennsylvania and an Advisory Board Member of Community Rec Magazine. Gary Bernstein has proudly authored the textbook, "The Fundamentals of Sports Marketing" with Sagamore Publishing and "Nonprofit Sport and Recreation Programs: Principles and Practices of Leadership and Management" by Sentia Publishers. For more information, call 757.667.0293 or email gary.bernstein@nepajca.org.

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