Sending a thank you note in response to a gift is expected. Exceed your donors’ expectations and create the best experiences your donors have ever had by following these ten tips:

  1. Commit to being the best. Donors make hard choices when they determine the three to five organizations they will support in a larger way. Commit to exceeding expectations, so donors will keep you on that top tier list.
  2. Develop and implement an appreciation plan. Not all gifts are the same. Appreciation strategies should not be the same, either. How will you show appreciation for a $10,000 and $100 donor, or first-time or monthly donor?
  3. Seek feedback. When appropriate, ask your donor, “How are we doing?” Make sure your donors know that your goal is to make giving feel good and their experience matters to you.
  4. Don’t take the relationship for granted. None of us likes to be taken for granted, and donors are no different. Earn every dollar of support, and remember that every relationship and every dollar is a gift.
  5. Make giving feel good. The “warm fuzzy” feeling might happen when a gift leaves the donor’s hands, but feeling good happens afterwards. Keep that giving feeling alive.
  6. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Seek opportunities to let donors know you are grateful, what you did with their gift and how it is changing lives. Then do it again and again.
  7. Assume they love you. Start with the assumption that you are your donor’s favorite organization. Smile when you call or write them. Communicate with enthusiasm and shared interests. Build a real relationship.
  8. Evaluate yourself. Conduct regular, honest assessments of your practices and interactions. If you think everything is perfect, look again. There is something you can improve.
  9. Earn a “five-star review.” People are compelled to write a review when their experiences are awful or amazing. Earn a fantastic review from your donors, even though they will never actually write one.
  10. Celebrate. Celebrate the accomplishments of your organization and gifts with your donors, staff and fundraising volunteers! Remind people that they are a part of a successful, impactful, grateful organization.
Karin Cox MFA

Karin Cox, MFA
President and Co-Founder

Phillips Fundamental Learning Center (Wichita, Kan.) received a $50,000 grant from Bank of America. Kansas faces significant losses in its students’ ability to read, with only 30% of fourth graders reading at a proficient level. This is a drop in reading proficiency since 2019, wiping out any gains that had been made in the last 20 years. PFCL is a privately-funded, educational nonprofit serving children with significant reading, writing and spelling difficulties, including those with dyslexia through identification, private education and teacher/parent education and training.

The Gradel Institute of Charity : New College, University of Oxford (Oxford, United Kingdom) holds a U.S. 501(c)(3) designation to receive tax deductible gifts. Working with other academic bodies, the Institute seeks to introduce, offer and foster the study of nonprofits around the world, including rigorous and practical research that will help improve the effectiveness of nonprofits. In helping make the nonprofit sector more effective, the intention is to ensure donors’ investments are better leveraged.  At the same time, the Institute will seek to raise the profile of the sector.