Thank You

As hard as you work to attract a new donor, you still need to be sure you keep your current donors interested in what you are doing enough to continue to donate. A prompt, sincere thank you is the one of most effective ways to do just that. *

(*aside from doing an awesome job at delivering your mission)

Donor retention is at an all time low, over 70% DON’T give a second time, much less a third or fourth time. This is quite the hot topic, and many offer pretty, hand wavy and useless suggestions about fixing it without giving any real, tangible suggestions of how to do so. What is it, exactly, that you can do to quickly acknowledge your donors choice to give above and beyond the automatic email acknowledgement? 

Below is a list, just that, a list, of things that others have done or do, some things that I have experienced as a donor that actually can make a difference between sticking around or following the newest bright, shiny cause. Customize, tweak or come up with something really new; it will be more than worth it. 

Pick and choose, see what makes sense to you and how you could make some of these your own.


  1. When someone first becomes a member a donation, send personalized thank you within a week.
  2. Provide regular quarterly updates that tell stories about the work you are doing, what you are accomplishing because of the gifts from people like your donor, the impact of the work is having on both the clients and the community.
  3. Be sure your mission statement is succinct and direct- make it easy to repeat and share.

  4. Every year send a happy birthday card to your donor.
  5. Ask a board member to make a quick phone call thanking the donor for their support and not asking for anything else at all.
  6. Host some small local or regional events about your work and invite donors to join.
  7. Create special interests groups within your donors- those committed to one particular program, monthly donors  or another sector and send them specialized short updates relevant to them; special and exclusive.
  8. Make a public thank you to donors when you have a success, reach a milestone or produce an event, you got there because your donors made those things happen.
  9. Send a reminder letter every year to renew memberships, thoughtful and grateful, refer to something about them such as when they joined  or how much their ongoing support has meant.
  10. When the renewal comes in, send a prompt thank you.
  11. Include these donors in special initiative solicitations or if something urgent has come up. They may or may not give more, offer them that choice.
  12. Ask their opinions: about your cause and mission, how they feel about your communications and programs, what they want to hear back from you about your work.
  13. Include donor information or questions as FAQ on your site, if one person has a question, there are 12 others who have the same question but have not asked (but would love to know).
  14. Make a special offer:  give away a wristband/cap/pin/ T shirt, add- a -friend membership deal, offer a discount on merchandise or to an event.
  15. If you have an event, ask all donors to stand and be thanked by the crowd.
  16. Show you are paying attention to your donors, make time for them, invest in them.



One of My Favorite Thank You’s Of All Time

This is an experience I posted on Quora about being acknowledged by a nonprofit I support; as someone who very well understands the demands on the time of any nonprofit staff member, this has always stayed with me.

What was the best/most thoughtful/memorable thank-you package (letter, newsletter, survey, phone call, etc.) that you’ve received after making a donation, and what made it that?
Cynthia Lauren, guidance and solutions for nonprofit management

Answered Nov 6, 2014

As a full time fundraiser I have to provide acknowledgments and thanks as well as look forward to receiving them. I have been given address labels ( for all the mail I send) blankets, bumper stickers, wristbands, postcards and notepads.

The best thank you I ever received however, was a short email from the founder of a dog rescue I support. I attended the graduation ceremony of a big project that was a huge effort and required many people to work on to get done, and some travel out of town. The event was a really big deal, important for the rescue, the dogs and the people involved in the new program.

The next day I got a short email from the founder thanking me for coming, although she had not had time to say hi to me at the event and wanted me to know she saw me and appreciated the effort I had made to drive out to the event and show my support and interest.

The fact that she made time to do this, without bells, whistles and blankets was as big a deal as any gift would be.

I think that her time, and her choosing to invest some of it with me, meant more than anything.

The Short Version 

In other words, there are many ways to acknowledge and work to earn the ongoing support of your donors and its a very worthwhile effort.

Maybe you have a better idea, or something that would work better for your group, be creative.

Investing in your donors the way you wish them to invest in your work is more than a fair trade off. Actions speak louder than words and sincerity counts.

Could you use a sounding board to bounce some ideas off of? Call now, this can be a really fun project with big dividends.  

310 828 6979   thanks