Are You Acknowledging or Thanking Your Donors?

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Right about now, many nonprofit organizations are busy preparing or have already sent a variety of year-end campaign appeals, email blasts or giving opportunities. While reaching out to new donors, renewals, or lapsed donors are a great idea this time of year, you should also be thinking about how you are thanking your donors.


One common mistake that nonprofit organizations make is to acknowledge a new gift but not really thank the donor. A receipt is not a thank you. Certainly, you’ll want to make sure your donors get donation receipts that include some information on tax deductibility. However, if you’re not telling donors anything about the impact of their gift and you’re just telling them “No goods or services were received by the donor as a result of this gift,” then you are missing an opportunity to engage those donors and potential gifts down the road.


A great way to make sure donors feel thanked is to try and personalize your gift acknowledgments as much as possible. If you are just pumping out a stack of form letters in large batches with no personalized message (or even a handwritten note), it will be easy for donors to not feel cared about and develop a stronger connection with your nonprofit.


Are they a new donor? Regular donor? Returning donor from a few years back?

Personalize each type of donor thank you as a way to make a stronger connection with that donor. Another great way to thank donors is following the standard acknowledgment by reaching out with a phone call or a handwritten card from the director, board chair, or program staff person.


Finally, be sure and keep your donor thank you letters centered on the donor and highlight the impact their gift is making for your organization. Don’t focus on how great your organization is, but rather, emphasize the partnership and work that can be done because of the gift that donor made. This is important regardless if you get a $25 donation or a $5,000 donation. Make your thank you process personal and memorable. With just a few extra steps, your organization can go from simply acknowledging gifts to creating lifelong partnerships with donors!

About author

Dan Kimball

Dan Kimball has worked in professional nonprofit fundraising for over 20 years. He has a passion for people, serving his community, and helping organizations improve the lives of others. Prior to his current role as Product Specialist for Aplos, Dan was the Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at Fresno State University in Fresno, CA. Along with his professional responsibilities, he remains active by serving on numerous local boards and volunteering for community and church related functions and activities. He also does nonprofit consulting for several boards and community-based organizations.