Create a Thank You Plan

This post is included in the November Nonprofit Blog Carnival | Giving Thanks and Gratitude

You probably have a fundraising plan (if not you should) and maybe a donor relations plan, but do you have a thank you plan?

Nonprofit organizations spend a lot of time on their fundraising campaigns, but treat thanking their donors as an afterthought.

You need to spend just as much time thanking your donors as you do on fundraising.

Creating a thank you plan will help you stay focused on gratitude all year round. Donor retention rates keep plunging and some of the reasons are donors don’t feel appreciated and that they only hear from nonprofits when they are asking for money.

Here are some things to consider as you put together your thank you plan.

Plan to thank your donors right away
Every single donor, no matter how much they have given or whether they donated online, gets a thank you card/ letter mailed to them or receives a phone call.

Try to thank your donors within 48 hours. This shouldn’t be hard to do. Carve out some time each day you get a donation and thank your donors.

Plan to go beyond sending a boring thank you letter

Instead of sending a generic thank you letter, mail a handwritten card or call your donors. Calling your donors to thank them is something your board can do. It’s often a welcome surprise and can raise retention rates among first-time donors.

Here’s where planning comes in. Find board members, staff, and volunteers to make phone calls or write thank you notes. Come up with sample scripts. You may also want to conduct a short training.

If you can’t send handwritten cards or call all your donors, send them a personal and heartfelt letter. Don’t start your letter with “On behalf of X organization we thank you for your donation of….” Open the letter with “You are amazing” or use one of the suggestions from this post. 22 Delightful Ways to Say Thank You!

Add a personal handwritten note to the letter, preferably something that pertains to that particular donor. For example, if the donor has given before or attended one of your recent events, mention that. In addition, make sure all the letters are hand signed.

Let your donors know how much you appreciate them and highlight what your organization is doing with their donation.

Here is more information on how you can do a better job of thanking your donors and some sample phone scripts and letters.

Let’s Do a Better Job of Thanking Donors

Fundraisers, Fix Your Thank You Letters!!


Plan to keep thanking your donors all year round
As you put together your communications calendar, incorporate ways to thank your donors. Try say thank you at least once a month. Here are some ways to do that.

  • Send cards or email messages at Thanksgiving, during the holidays, Valentine’s Day, or mix it up a little and send a note of gratitude in June or September when your donors won’t be expecting it.
  • Invite your donors to connect with you via email and social media. Keep them updated with accomplishments and success stories. Making all your communications donor-centered will help convey an attitude of gratitude. Share accomplishments such as:

Thanks to you, we just started an afterschool program at the Northdale Middle School. Now these students have a safe place to meet and learn new skills.

  • Be sure to keep thanking your donors in your newsletter and social media updates. Emphasize that you wouldn’t be able to do the work you do without your donors’ support.
  • Create a thank you video and share it on your website, by email, and on social media. Our Favorite Nonprofit Thank You Videos 
  • Hold an open house at your organization or offer tours so your donors can see the inner workings of your nonprofit. 

Show Appreciation by Holding an Open House

The Power of Place – Making the Most of Tours For Donors

  • Keep thinking of other ways to thank your donors.
Creating a thank you plan will make it easier to keep showing appreciation to your donors all year round. If you treat them well, maybe they’ll treat you well the next time you send a fundraising appeal.
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