Why You Need a Thank You Plan


This post is included in 16+ ways to say thank you better: September 2015 Nonprofit Blog Carnival

You probably have a fundraising plan and maybe a donor relations plan, but it’s also important to have a thank you plan since you should spend just as much time thanking your donors as you do raising money.

This isn’t happening. Nonprofit organizations spend a lot of time on their fundraising campaigns, but treat thanking donors as an afterthought. According to Bloomerang, 13% of donors leave because they were never thanked. Another 18% leave because of poor communication. Why Donors Leave

We can fix this! CrGuestPost-Jay-Love-Why-Donors-Stop-Their-Supporteating a thank you plan will help you stay focused on gratitude all year round.  Here’s what you need to include in your thank you plan.

Plan to thank your donors right away

Every donor, no matter how much they’ve given or whether they donated online, gets a thank you card or letter mailed to them or receives a phone call.

Try to thank your donors within 48 hours. This shouldn’t be hard to do if you plan to carve out some time to thank your donors each day you get a donation. Get other staff or volunteers to help you.

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.

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. Make sure to get your team together well before your next fundraising campaign.

Here’s a sample phone script, which you can modify for a thank you note.

Hi, this is Susan Jones and I’m a board member at the Eastside Community Food Bank. I’m calling to thank you for your generous donation of $50. Thanks to you, we can provide a family with a week’s worth of groceries. This is great. We’re seeing more people coming in right now because of cuts to food stamp programs. We really appreciate your support.

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’re amazing” or “Because of you, Jason won’t go to bed hungry tonight.”

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. Make sure all letters are hand signed.

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

In addition, write your thank you letters at the same time you write your appeal letters.  Make sure they’re ready to go as soon as the donations come in.

Plan to keep thanking your donors all year round

Use your communications calendar to incorporate ways to thank your donors. Try to 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. Try to send at least one or two gratitude messages a year by mail, since your donors will be more likely to see those.
  • 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. 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.
  • Hold an open house at your organization or offer tours so your donors can see your nonprofit up close and personal.
  • 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.

Gratitude resources

Inspiring Quotes About Gratitude

Create a Thank You Experience for Your Donors

The Power of Gratitude

Nine Clever Ways to Thank Your Donors

5 Thank You Letters Donors Will Love

Photo by Shih-Chieh Li


10 thoughts on “Why You Need a Thank You Plan

  1. Amazing blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you recommend starting with a free platform like
    Wordpress or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m completely confused ..

    Any recommendations? Cheers!


    • Hi Pasquale WordPress is a good place to start. You can use it for both blogging and as a website. I use the free version, but I know you have more options with the paid version.


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