7 Witty Ways to Thank Your Donors

At some point, fundraisers have to admit that the standard thank you letter will not cut it. An out-of-the-box gesture of gratitude just might surprise your donors and may even earn your organization its next big gift. Here are a few clever ways to thank your donors:

  1. Thank you letters
    Of course we need a standard thank you letter, in many cases this letter is used as a tax receipt. But, that doesn’t mean that it has to be boring and stale. Change the text according to the season or a specific campaign and up the interest factor with photos. Donors love to look at pictures of cute pets and critters. The core takeaway is to personalize, personalize, personalize –but in a genuine manner.
  2. Thank you cards
    Some donors may presume that they will receive a standard thank you letter, but not a handwritten note. This is especially effective if the donor has given multiple times or has given a special gift and the note comes unexpectedly. If the donor is considered a major donor, a Board member or Executive Director should write the note. If the donor is a longtime supporter and you have information about their pets, inquire about or wish “Fluffy” well. This adds personalization and the donor realizes that you know them as a person and not as a pool of supporters or a donor ID number.
  3. Celebration card
    Your donor database can be a power tool if you capture the right information. By recording the donor’s birthday, anniversary, pet’s name, pet’s birthday and other celebratory dates in your database, you are able to acknowledge a special milestone in the donor’s life. Including a handwritten note thanking the donor for their continued support acknowledges the event and keeps the donor connected to the organization. In time, the donor may see the organization as an extended family.
  4. Video messages
    There are endless possibilities with video messages! You could film a dog holding a thank you sign in his/her mouth or a video from the Executive Director stating how grateful they are to have “donors like you”. Whatever you decide, your donor will be surprised to find such a thoughtful thank you. Not to mention since the video message will most likely be emailed, it can be shared with family and friends, which in turn will raise awareness about your organization to people who may otherwise be unaware.
  5. Thank you calls
    Have you ever called your donor just to say “thank you”? This doesn’t mean saying thank you and then asking for the next gift. Just a simple thank you. I’ve found that donors love this and I’ve even had them ask me, “Why aren’t you asking for money.” The majority of the time, this is a donor who is ready to give another gift right on the spot. These thank you calls are short, sweet, and a quick touch that can be made from almost anywhere.
  6. Website/Social media
    85% of American adults are online so go where your donors are and thank them publicly. Everyone loves recognition, including donors. The next time a donor gives a wonderful gift, call them, thank them and then ask them if you can tweet about their wonderful generosity. I haven’t had a donor say “no” yet.
  7. Thank you visits
    I know what you are thinking,“I don’t have time for visits, they always take a least 2 hours.”  No, not these visits; remember these are simply thank you visits.Here’s what you need to do:
  1. Hand-select a few donors a month or a quarter
  2. Hand-write nice thank you notes (include your business card)
  3. Gather small gifts to make donors smile  

Gifts can be anything from a handful of dog/cat treats wrapped in tulle, to your organization’s swag. Once you arrive at the donor’s house, simply place the gift on their doorstep and you are off to the next house. These visits are only to let the donor know that you appreciate their gratitude. I find that at least 30-40% of these donors will either call or email you because of this visit. Use this opportunity to speak with them and get to know them better.


Ivy Collier

Ivy Collier, MPA, is Director of Development, Marketing & Communications for the Delaware SPCA


2016 Copyright Society of Animal Welfare Administrators