A Fundraiser’s Journey: Saying Thanks

Kelly picKelly Updike for PCNRC, A Fundraiser’s Journey series

I have a confession to make.

Once upon a time I did not say thank-you to a donor. It’s a complicated story that I won’t bore you with here but the summary is that the donor was extremely angry, I was mortified and my organization nearly lost the gift.


I learned, the hard way, the first rule of fundraising: No matter what, first, always, simply, say thanks.

Here’s the low-down on the highlights of thanking each person who makes a gift of any sort to your organization.

  • Be quick about it. You should aim to send a thank-you notification within 48 hours.
  • Be formal at least once. Donors who make tax-deductible gifts should receive a letter that can be used for tax reporting purposes.
  • Rinse and repeat. Say thank-you more than once and you will stand out from the crowd. I once received three different thank-you communications for the same gift – wow, I gave again the next year, happily and eagerly.
  • Mean it. Be personal and personable, be sincere and specific. Briefly describe how the gift makes a difference to your organization.
  • Give it some flair. Hey, share some of your nonprofit passion and creativity. Use email, video, photos, text messages and handwritten notes.
  • Make it a party. Involve others in saying thank-you, including volunteers and board members. Have a thank-you-letter signing party. Give a two-sentence telephone script to board members and ask them to thank a few donors. Simone Joyaux writing in the Dec. 6, 2014, issue of Nonprofit Quarterly, suggests that making a call is currently an under-used method and thus a pleasant surprise to donors.

So, take a cue from Elvis and say, “Thank you. Thank you very much.”

The Nonprofit Quarterly article mentioned above can be found at this link.

The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Embassy or the PCNRC.

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