How to Thank Your Donors for their Generosity
There are a variety of differences between churches and nonprofit organizations. If there’s one cue that ministry leaders should take from charitable groups, though, it’s the importance of learning how to thank your donors. A single “thank you” directed at everyone during service may have been enough in the past, but in the digital age, it simply won’t get the job done.
We created the DonorWerx Framework with donor and congregant communication in mind. This means thanking those who make contributions is integral, and we even offer several ready-to-use examples. Read on to learn the best ways to thank your donors and then take a moment to review how our system works once you’ve finished this guide.
Why Is Learning How to Thank Donors Important?
The preferred terminology for describing congregants isn’t “donors,” but with tithing and donations, this is how you should view them. People want to contribute to noble causes, but they also want to feel appreciated. The real question is whether knowing how to thank your donors is an effective way to keep folks giving.
The answer is a resounding ‘yes.’ In fact, the Forbes Nonprofit Council Expert Panel says sending out a “thank you” after a donation is one of the best ways to increase donor retention. This is also one of the few ways to immediately increase donor engagement in the first hours following a contribution.
Now that you understand the importance of knowing how to thank donors, it’s time to learn the proper ways of doing so.
How to Thank Your Donors
The “thank you” that’s sent out to a donor can vary based on how they give. While an appreciative text is ideal following a text-to-give contribution, for instance, even the best online donation pages probably shouldn’t result in an immediate text after donors hit “submit.” In such a case, a “thank you” video would be more appropriate right after the donation.
Remember that specific situations will dictate which of these methods of thanking your donor is best suited. We go over this in-depth in our DonorWerx Framework, but we’ve also included a few tips below to get you started.
Automated Thank You
There are many ways to thank those who give to your church, but if your digital giving software doesn’t allow an automated “thank you,” it’s dropping the ball. Whether someone gives via text, donation page, app or kiosk, there should be an automatic “thank you” sent their way. This serves as an acknowledgement that you noticed their contribution and appreciated it.
Send Out a Donation Thank-You Letter
If you mail out donation thank-you letters, it’s going to cost the church time and money. The increase in donor retention, though, makes the investment well worth the effort. Keep in mind that you don’t need to do this every time someone tithes or an automatic payment posts. Sending a physical card the first time they give is often enough.
This doesn’t mean your lesson on how to thank donors is suddenly over. You’ll need to continue showing appreciation over time. Fortunately, you can do this in other ways. One big exception is when someone gives a substantial gift. If you have a big donor who repeatedly gives, it’s smart to send a real thank-you card every time. In fact, a call may be even better.
Make a Phone Call
While we’re discussing phone calls, we should point out that this is a powerful way to increase donor retention. While a pastor certainly shouldn’t spend their entire weekend on the phone, taking half an hour every week to call donors can result in a great return on investment.
Send a Thank You on Social Media
Most people love a bit of public recognition. Even when we do something out of the goodness of our hearts, knowing that someone appreciates our actions can mean the world. Social media is the perfect place to show that appreciation. Recognize congregants who go above and beyond with large contributions, follow-up with community work, consistently give and engage in other “extra mile” actions.
Make a Donor Thank-You Video
One of the best investments you can make to improve giving levels at your church is create a donor thank-you video. Fortunately, you don’t need to do this for each individual donor. Sending a single video that focuses on a specific issue to every donor is acceptable. If you record a video of a project getting completed, for instance, you can send this out via email, social media and even place it on your website.
This ensures everyone will see what their contribution is accomplishing. Review our guide on How to Make a Donor Thank-You Video if you need help.
Surprise Donors with Seasonal Gifts
Sending out small seasonal “thank you” gifts is a great way to remind your congregants that you haven’t forgotten them. Someone who sees an automatic payment come out of their bank every month may get disillusioned if all they ever receive is an appreciative email. Try every so often to send out a seasonal gift that shows you haven’t forgotten your flock.
Show Appreciation on Your Website
If you’ve learned anything regarding how to thank your donors, it’s that they appreciate public recognition. Thanking individual donors on your website is another great way to offer this. You could have several lists broken up by most recent donors, largest donors, recurring donors and more. Figure out what works for your website’s format and run with it.
Thanking Your Donors Is Vital
Nonprofits have known for years that a proper and timely “thank you” can do wonders for donor retention. It’s possible that ministries have overlooked this reality so long because they see tithing as a given. As we’ve learned from church tithing statistics, though, this simply isn’t the case. People want to feel that we appreciate their sacrifice, and a simple “thank you” goes a long way.
The DonorWerx Framework focuses on increasing ministry revenue through improved donor engagement. One of the first steps in accomplishing this is acknowledging those who give. There are countless resources for those who need to know how to thank donors, and we include many of them in our system.
Schedule a Discovery Call with one of our giving experts today to learn how we can help your church do God’s work.