8 Ways You’re Probably Not Thanking Your Donors | npENGAGE

8 Ways You’re Probably Not Thanking Your Donors

By on Nov 5, 2012


As the year-end giving season fast approaches, some nonprofits will find it easier than others to secure year-end gifts. Those who have effectively thanked and regularly communicated with donors will have an easier time retaining them. As Kivi Leroux Miller found out after donating to 20 nonprofits, there’s room for improvement when it comes to online donor stewardship.

So how can you say thank you more effectively and more often? Here are 8 ways:

1. Send a Donor Welcome Series

Send first-time donors a “welcome” email series that thanks them, introduces your organization and provides other ways to be involved. This type of automated series is the top way to improve the relevancy of your emails (according to Marketing Sherpa’s 2011 Email Marketing Benchmark Report). Vary the messaging for repeat donors.

2. Credit Your Donors, Instead of Your Organization

When you say what’s been accomplished in 2012, give your donors the credit. Instead of saying Our organization was able to…, instead say Donors like you were able to… Help them feel connected directly to those in need and eliminate the middleman (you).

3. ‘Donation Update’ Email

If you struggle to send relevant email content, here’s an easy one. Once or twice a year, report back to your donors on the impact of their gift. It’s so simple, but so seldom used. Doing this conveys transparency, responsibility and gratitude.

4. Make Giving an Experience

Donate to Stand up to Cancer and you can launch a virtual star in honor of someone who’s had cancer. They thank donors by giving them an experience. Donating funds cancer research, but it also helps people feel closer to those they’ve lost.

5. Say Thanks in Regular Emails

Within your email newsletter, event invitations or news alerts, include an occasional thank you note to donors. Besides showing appreciation, you may engage them enough to keep reading.  Some tools, like Blackbaud NetCommunity, will let you insert hidden messages to donors within these emails.

6. Make a Thank You Video

Somebody in your office has a smartphone. Make a short video from your nonprofit’s Executive Director (or those you help) saying why they’re thankful and why the gift is important. Include it on the donation confirmation page.

7. Include a thank you photo

In your confirmation email or page, include a photo of those you serve waving, holding up a thank you sign or something else creative.  It’ll help your donor feels great about the gift they just made. Here’s one from a marine research organization:

8. Send a Happy Thanksgiving email

As you map out your year-end campaign, consider including this email to let donors know you’re thankful for them. It’s also a good way stagger hard-asks within your year-end campaign.

What thank-you ideas do you have? Please share them below in the comments!



Mike Snusz brings 18 years of fundraising experience to his role as a Senior Team Lead on Blackbaud’s Professional Services team. He leads a team of digital consultants and works with nonprofits to improve their digital fundraising, monthly giving, email marketing and peer-to-peer fundraising programs. Prior to Blackbaud, Mike managed the turnaround of the Ride For Roswell from 2003 to 2005 in his hometown of Buffalo, NY. When he’s not contemplating fundraising, Mike enjoys hide and seek, tag, and dance parties with his two kids.

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