You know that donor stewardship is something you absolutely should be doing, but you've already put so much time into your donation request, and hey, you’ve got a bunch of last-minute fires to put out, so who in the heck has time for that? Are donor robocalls a thing? That auto-generated thank you letter or email is probably looking really good right about now, right?
Not so fast there, fundraiser! While automating your acknowledgments should absolutely be a part of your fundraising strategy, failing to send an appropriate thank you letter could harm your bottom line. Without making the time to thank your donors the right way for their generous donations, you're creating a leaky fundraising bucket. Sure, you may be securing new donors, but you could also be losing donors—perhaps even at a higher rate than you're bringing them in (yikes!).
The implications of poor donor stewardship don't just impact your organization; it also impacts donors. Donors are excited to make a gift to your organization. They eagerly completed that online donation form or mailed in their check. And then, bam—your nonprofit organization becomes just another faceless organization, leaving them high and dry with a form thank you letter, or worse, radio silence. Talk about a lousy giving experience!
We know you’re striving for excellence and want to delight your donors, so let’s talk about how to say thank you to your donors the right way.
- The impact of thank you letters
- Nail the first 48 hours
- How to write the perfect thank you letter
- AI prompts for thank you letters
- 30+ quotes to express your gratitude to donors
- Engage donors past the giving experience
- 9 creative ways to say 'thank you' to your donors
- Donor Appreciation FAQ
From the time a child can write, we tell them to send thank you letters. Even if it's just "THANK YOU" scrawled in enormous print with a backward 'N,' that handwritten letter is important. It means something. And when you're talking donor communication, thank you notes for donations are particularly important. Why? Let us count the ways, dear nonprofiteer.
Recognition and appreciation
If a generous donor only hears from when they receive their tax receipt, they're going to feel pretty unappreciated. Putting the effort in to write an actual physical letter with an honest-to-gosh personal message is one way to say, "Hey, we see you, and we think you're great, and you have our deepest gratitude."
Building donor relationships
Just like being pen pals can be the start of a meaningful relationship, writing a thank you letter to donors in exchange for their generous gift makes a personal connection in a way that another email or text message just ... doesn't. It's all about putting in a little extra effort.
Enhancing donor retention
This is a big one. So big, in fact, that we wrote a whole article about using thank you as a donor retention strategy. Saying thank you is a key touchpoint that lets donors know that their monetary gift is not going unnoticed. That makes it more likely that they'll stick around and make this a lasting relationship, which means higher donor retention rates pour vous.
When sending thank you notes for donations acknowledging donors' generous contributions, you spread goodwill. Goodwill means that donor feels confident in your relationship, and that makes them more likely to spread the good word near and far.
Inspiring continued engagement
Strong relationships are built on continual communication with donors. That means if they hear from you regularly, whether it's through a donation letter, thank you note, casual update, or event invite, they're more likely to stay engaged and keep giving.
Now that you understand what a huge impact one thank you note can have, you'll want to send it off right away, right? After all, a well-meaning thank you letter goes a long way, but a lot of the time, we don't get them out the door in a timely manner. We know it's hard nonprofit friends, but donors are what make the nonprofit world go 'round, so you gotta prioritize them. So, the first 48 hours after a donor makes their gift is critical. Two things must happen—the thank you letter needs to be in the mail, and a thank you phone call must be made to the donor.
We're a society that values instant gratification, so promptness is the name of the game. If your board members, staff, or volunteers can call donors within 48 hours, not only will they be inclined to give again, but they're more likely to stick around for the long term. And since donor retention eats donor acquisition for breakfast, your return on investment on this small but mighty deed is huge.
But how do you write the perfect thank you note, bursting with genuine gratitude for a donor's generous gift? One of the biggest roadblocks to sending a thank you letter in a timely matter is an outdated donor database. Part of sending a great thank you letter is making sure all your donor info is correct and up-to-date. Sending a thank you to John but addressing it to Joan can end a donor relationship before it even starts. Here's a short checklist to help you ensure your thank you note for donations is poised to make a positive impact and ready to get out the door:
- Triple-check your merge fields, such as name and gift amounts.
- Make sure the donor’s name is spelled correctly.
- Include a quote, testimonial, or personal story from someone who's benefited from your organization’s work.
- Include information about how the gift will be used and what impact it will have.
- Ensure the letter is signed by the appropriate person. This may be the CEO, or it could be a grateful client.
Want to go the extra mile? If you’re sending snail mail, add a handwritten thoughtful note at the bottom of the letter to let donors know that a real person has seen their donation.
Now, you're ready to write thank you letters that slay ... but also, you're really short on time, and your to-do list is a mile long, and, honestly, all the letters are just starting to blur together. Fear not! It's AI to the rescue. Use the prompts below to generate a great thank-you note. Then, get a real human editor/writer to give everything a once-over and a human touch for a more personalized message.
Thank you letter for supporting a peer-to-peer campaign
Write a letter thanking a donor for supporting your recent peer-to-peer campaign in support of [how the gift will be used]. Specifically, emphasize that their support has made an impact, allowing [organization name] to [impact]. Include the following [quote/story]: [insert client quote/story]. Share that the successful campaign raised [amount]. The tone of the letter should be grateful, authentic, and [list other organizational brand voice attributes].
Thank you letter for in-kind donations
Write a letter thanking a donor for their recent in-kind donation of [specific in-kind gift]. Specifically, emphasize that their gift has made an impact, allowing [organization name] to [impact]. The tone of the letter should be grateful, authentic, and [list other organizational brand voice attributes].
Thank you letter for volunteers
Write a letter thanking a volunteer for their volunteer work at [organization name]. Specifically, emphasize your personal gratitude for the time they've spent doing [type of volunteer work] for [organization name], and how it has made an impact, allowing [organization name] to [impact]. Include the following personal details: [insert personal details about the volunteer]. The tone of the letter should be grateful, warm, and [list other organizational brand voice attributes].
Thank you letter for sharing on social
Write a letter thanking a supporter for sharing [organization name]'s [post/campaign] about [topic] on [social channel]. Specifically, emphasize that you appreciate the time they've spent to spread awareness about [post/campaign theme], and how it has made an impact, allowing [organization name] to [impact]. The tone of the letter should be grateful, enthusiastic, and [list other organizational brand voice attributes]. Include a sentence on how the supporter can stay involved by [other ways to get involved, such as future events, volunteer opportunities, ].
Thank you letter for first-time donor
Write a letter thanking a new donor for their first donation to [organization name]. Specifically, emphasize that their support has made an impact, allowing [organization name] to [impact]. Include the following [quote/story]: [insert client quote/impact story]. The tone of the letter should be grateful, authentic, and [list other organizational brand voice attributes].
Thank you letter for sponsors
Write a letter thanking a [individual donor/corporate donor] for sponsoring [event/campaign] for [your organization name]. Specifically, emphasize that their sponsorship has made a major impact, allowing [organization name] to [impact]. Include the following [quote/impact story]: [insert client quote/story]. The tone of the letter should be grateful, authentic, and [list other organizational brand voice attributes].
Thank you letter for major donors
Write a letter thanking a major donor for their generous donation to [organization name]. Specifically, emphasize that their major gift has made a big impact, allowing [organization name] to [impact]. Include the following [quote/story]: [insert client quote/impact story]. The tone of the letter should be grateful, authentic, and [list other organizational brand voice attributes].
Thank you letter for event attendance
Write a letter thanking [individual donor/organization name] for their event attendance at [fundraising event] for [your organization name]. Specifically, emphasize that their attendance means a lot to your organization as you strive to [organization mission]. The tone of the letter should be grateful, authentic, and [list other organizational brand voice attributes]. Include the following information about the event [amount raised, number of attendees, etc.]. Additionally, include a sentence on how the supporter can stay involved by [other ways to get involved, such as an upcoming event, volunteer opportunities, etc.].
Thank you letter for capital campaigns
Write a letter thanking a donor for supporting [organization name]'s recent capital campaign in support of [capital campaign goal]. Specifically, emphasize that their support will help you reach your goal of [capital campaign goal, with additional details on what this means for your organization's mission]. Share that the campaign has raised [amount] so far. The tone of the letter should be grateful, authentic, enthusiastic, and [list other organizational brand voice attributes].
At this point, you're about ready to write some fantastic thank-you letters that forge meaningful, long-lasting relationships with donors. But what if you need a little something extra to break up that text? That's where thank you for donation quotes come into play. Below, we're highlighting a few famous quotes across industries that say, "thank you for your contribution and support; it matters."
Quotes for animal charities
- "You can judge a man's true character by the way he treats his fellow animals." (Paul McCartney)
- "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." (Mahatma Gandhi)
- "Sometimes losing a pet is more painful than losing a human because in the case of the pet, you were not pretending to love it.” (Amy Sedaris)
- “Compassion for animals is intimately associated with goodness of character, and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man.” (Arthur Schopenhauer)
Quotes for environmental charities
- "The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it." (Robert Swan)
- “We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it.” (Barack Obama)
- "For many of us, clean water is so plentiful and readily available that we rarely, if ever, pause to consider what life would be like without it." (Marcus Samuelsson)
- "What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another." (Chris Maser)
- "We won’t have a society if we destroy the environment." (Margaret Mead)
Quotes for community nonprofits
- “One of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn't as individuals.” (Jean Vanier)
- "We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men." (Herman Melville)
- “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” (African Proverb)
Quotes for LGBTQ+ organizations
- "We deserve to experience love fully, equally, without shame and without compromise." (Elliot Page)
- "It takes no compromise to give people their rights. It takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression." (Harvey Milk)
- “Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands?” (Ernest Gaines)
- "No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us." (Marsha P. Johnson)
Quotes for education and youth-focused nonprofits
- “Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.” (Malcolm Forbes)
- “Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.” (Abigail Adams)
- “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” (Dr. Seuss)
- “They cannot stop me. I will get my education, if it is in the home, school, or anyplace.” (Malala Yousafzai)
Quotes for churches and faith-based organizations
- "Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies." (Mother Teresa)
- "The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart." (Helen Keller)
- “Let the good in me connect with the good in others, until the world is transformed through the compelling power of love.” –(Rabbi Nachman of Breslov)
- "Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” (Brené Brown)
- "Faith is a living, daring confidence in God's grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times." (Martin Luther)
Quotes for health care nonprofits
- “The first wealth is health.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
- “The collective principle asserts that … no society can legitimately call itself civilized if a sick person is denied medical aid because of lack of means.” (Aneurin Bevan)
- “America's health care system is neither healthy, caring, nor a system.” (Walter Cronkite)
Quotes for social justice nonprofits
- "Freedom and justice cannot be parceled out in pieces to suit political convenience. I don’t believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others." (Coretta Scott King)
- "The order of society is based on two virtues: justice and charity. Charity is the Samaritan who pours oil on the wounds of the traveler who has been attacked. It is justice’s role to prevent the attack." (Frédéric Ozanam)
- "Justice consists not in being neutral between right and wrong, but in finding out the right and upholding it, wherever found, against the wrong." (Theodore Roosevelt)
Okay, so we’ve talked about the first 48 hours after a gift is made and how you can ensure donors get the warm fuzzies from your org. We've talked about the importance of saying thank you (and adding a handwritten note!) for your fundraising efforts. And we've got some great quotes to make those thank-you letters even more compelling. But because you’re one smart fundraiser, you know relationship building is a long game, so you want to keep the awesome experience going.
Keep the momentum going by having a plan for communication and stewardship of your amazing donors. Here are some things you could do.
- Create a donor-specific newsletter or impact report highlighting how they've made a difference
- Send donors a Valentine’s Day card or card for a holiday relevant to your cause.
- Recognize donor giving anniversaries with a personal note after 1, 5, 10, and 20 years of giving
- Add value to your donors’ lives by sharing your organization’s expertise in ways that may be useful to them
- Host a donor appreciation event where they can make a human connection, get to know the staff, and ask questions
A thank you for your donation message goes a long way, but we know that you sometimes want to go wild and think outside the template. Here are some new and exciting ways to show your donors that you're grateful for their charitable donation.
- Donor appreciation wall
- Welcome package
- Donor appreciation event
- Donor ride-along
- Handwritten letters from beneficiaries
- Grand gesture
- Exclusive webinars
- Thank you video text
- Coffee chat
Build a donor appreciation wall
Create a recognition wall in your office or a virtual one on your website or social media platforms. Feature donor names, quotes from beneficiaries, and messages of thanks.
Send a welcome package
Turn one-time donors into monthly donors with a meaningful welcome package. After receiving that first donation, put together an assortment of goods and papers that reflect your appreciation, like a welcome letter, annual report, calendar, some branded stickers, pens, or magnets.
Host a donor appreciation event
Show your gratitude and create a memorable experience by hosting an appreciation event for your donors. It could be a brunch, a lunch, a dinner, a ... linner? Just make it fun and informative for your generous event attendees!
Plan a donor ride-along
Take your donors on a li'l field trip to show them firsthand how much impact they're having. Pack some snacks, rent a van, and take them to visit different project and program sites to see their gifts in action. That's a thank you that's sure to lead to future donations!
Mail handwritten letters from beneficiaries
A thank you letter from your org? A wonderful token of appreciation. A handwritten card from a client? This type of personal touch makes a huge difference.
Make a grand gesture
For larger donations, plant a tree in your donor's honor or go big and name a program after them. Sometimes, a grand gesture is what you need to take your relationship with donors to the next level.
Put on exclusive webinars
Host webinars just for your donors, inviting experts in the field to talk about your work and emphasize why funding is so crucial or sharing positive outcomes through interviews with clients or on-the-ground staff members.
Send a video thank you
An email with a link to a generic video? Meh. A personalized video sent via text message? So cool.
Grab a coffee
A personal visit with an existing donor is a time commitment, but it can literally and figuratively pay off. You can get their feedback and make a personal connection, which is one of the best ways to strengthen retention.
What do you write in a thank you note for a donor?
To write a thank you note to a donor, find a simple template or use AI to get started. Be sure to personalize the letter, emphasize the impact of their donation, and make a human connection.
How do you write a thank you note for a donation in memory?
Use a letter template or AI to start a thank you note for a donation in memory. Personalize the note by mentioning anything you know about the person and emphasizing the impact of the gift. A handwritten note is a way to showcase your genuine gratitude for this particularly meaningful gift.
How do you show donors appreciation?
Show donors your genuine gratitude by promptly sending a thank you for your donation message or letter. You can also try some more creative ideas, like hosting a donor appreciation event, giving them a tour of program locations
Time to start thanking donors the right way. We’re here to cheer you on to donor stewardship glory!