Three Ways to Thank Your Donors in less than Five Minutes


You may have heard January called “Thankuary”…

It’s the perfect time to let your donors know how truly special and valuable they are.  After countless emails, letters and phone calls (hopefully) towards the end of the year, January is a natural time to say “thank you.”

So, here are 3 ways you can thank your donors today… and they all take less than 5 minutes!!

1.  Call a donor, say “thank you” and listen — Donors love to be thanked; they also love the chance to share why they gave.  They’ll be surprised and delighted you took the time to reach out to them personally, even if they don’t pick up.

2.  Write a handwritten note — Sending a personal note, written by a human (even if it isn’t you!), goes a long way.  Mail it on personal stationery, or even in a hallmark card-sized envelope.  It can be short and sweet.  They won’t forget it.

BONUS TIP: Want to reach even more donors?  Have a “thank you card party” at the office and give everyone 10 cards and a short script! 

3.  Forward an already-planned mass email — Does your organization already have a thank you email planned for January?  Take a minute to forward that to a special donor right from your email before the main email goes out to everyone.  You could even share a little “before and after story” that made you think of them.

Every 5 minutes counts!  How many donors can you thank today?! 

PS — Need more ideas for Thankuary?  Use this Cheat Sheet (with examples) for how to run a great Thankuary campaign!

Upgrade your mid-level communications today using these 3 tips!


While we might wish that each of our communications could be perfectly personalized for each donor, this often isn’t the reality.

It can take way too much time. We often don’t have all the accurate data needed. And frankly, the donors don’t give at a level that warrants that kind of attention to detail… yet.

So, for this group of “mid-level” donors who aren’t quite in a gift officer’s portfolio, but give at a higher level than many of your annual or mass donors, here are three ways you can easily personalize your communications without taking too much time:

  1. A Cover Letter with personalized program or campaign information
    • Try sorting your mailing list by the last fund or campaign that your mid-level donors gave to. Group them by that fund or campaign and merge a sentence or two about that program into a personalized cover letter to accompany your communication.
  2. Post-it notes
    • Did you know you can print on post-it notes at your office? Add a personalized thank you to any generic letter for your donors. Depending on the size of your mailing list, you can type out each one in Excel and merge, or type directly into Word, letting your donor know how special they are. Here’s a link with step-by-step instructions!
  3. Send a hand-written thank you
    • Gather a couple staff members and have a half-hour “thank you card party” every week. Imagine: Thank You Thursdays! Prioritize your list of donations by amount, from high to low. For the donors you don’t have time to make a thank you call, send a short hand-written note. Be sure to include the personal contact information of the signee in case the donor would like to call you back!

Even if you try just one of these three tips in your next mailing, you are improving your donor’s experience by making them feel truly appreciated. The chances one of your mid-level donors upgrading to a major donor just increased!

How To Get the Most Out of Your Donor Thank You Calls

Thank you calls.

I think we all know that calling your donors to thank them is important, but in the back of our minds it goes something like this…

“I don’t have time,” and “how much does it really matter,” and “they never pick up,” and “wait, what if they do pick up?!”

If you are an annual gift officer looking for leads, or a major gifts officer building relationships, or even program staff hoping to spread the word about an event, here are some helpful steps you can take to make sure your donor thank you calls are worth your time:

  1. Do your research ahead of time — Spend 2 minutes in their donor record prior to the call. What you find could be crucial to your conversation.
    • When did they start giving? Previous board member? Where do they live? Which funds or campaign do they typically give to? Who do they have relationships with? Do they attend your events?
  2. Ask Discovery questions — Don’t waste your time as a fundraiser; if the donor answers the phone, use the opportunity to thank the donor and gather some discovery information. Here are my Top 5 Favorites:

    a. What inspired your gift?

    b. Do you have any personal connections to <insert your organization>’s employees, volunteers, or events?

    c. Can you tell me about your charitable giving? Are we in your top 3 charities?

    d. Is our organization in your will or estate plan?

    e. What’s the best way to contact you? Phone, email, mail?

  3. Send an email or thank you card — No one picked up the phone? Didn’t have time to call everyone? Send a personal thank you email with a discovery question.
    • You might be surprised who responds to your email AND shares discovery information with you. Even if you write a handwritten note to put in the mail, add your business card. You NEVER know when they might call you back.
  4. Take notes — Was their gift in memory of someone? Did they mention vacationing on their family yacht? Are their kids in high school? College? Are they retired?

If you don’t take a few minutes to call a donor to thank them, you’ll never know what you might be missing. You could be surprised at what you learn – once I had a donor notify me of a $100,000 estate gift during a thank you call!

Each donor will be grateful that you thanked them, and sometimes they might share a bit more than you expected. You will have deepened the relationship and increased your chance of another gift in the future!