Thank Donors for a contribution

When you are asked to do something different than you’ve always done?

When someone makes a first time gift?

When someone makes a significantly helpful in-kind contribution?

How do you respond?

In all of life, but especially in our work in nonprofit fundraising and communications, we have a choice about our response.

I support nonprofit organizations by being grounded in a mind-set of knowing the best results come from outside our comfort zone. My training and coaching sessions begin with the question:

“What is working here?” – Everyone gives a short answer to this question BEFORE we jump into discussions about what needs fixing.

This question usually significantly changes the tone of any meeting because we begin by focusing on the mission of the organization and what IS going well.

Here are some of my favorite Alternative Choices for choosing how you respond.

1. When change is requested: do you. . . Push back and demand things are done “the way we’ve always done them?” Or do you pause and listen to your internal conversation to better understand why this change is hard for you?

Your Alternative Choice: Take a deep breath and request a short discussion about WHY things might need to be handled differently at the event or with the mailing or? Listen with an open mind. Come to agreement about what parts of doing things differently you can agree on.

2. When someone makes a first-time gift or increases their gift, do you. . . pick up the phone to leave a warm message of gratitude? Jot a note on the thank you letter? Give them a shout-out on social media? OR does someone on your staff send the form letter and not notice this person has done something special?

Your Alternative Choice: Create a simple first-year donor welcome campaign that keeps the person feeling great about their investment and THEIR impact. Check out the Sample Timeline for New Donor Retention.

Two AWESOME thank you letters I received in the past three weeks
THESE made me feel great! Click the letters to see them full size.

a great response to a contributionAnother Great Nonprofit Response to a contribution

3. When someone makes a significantly helpful in-kind contribution do you. . . Take it for granted that they want to spend time in a meeting being thanked? Do you list their name or logo somewhere they’ll never see it. Or do nothing?

Your Alternative Choice: Send them a short video snippet of program participants saying how amazing their experience of your event or work is and tell the donor THEY helped make that happen. Do something mission-focused that causes them to feel like the superhero they are


In my ebook Nine Steps to A Successful Fundraising Campaign you’ll find a collection of nine stories and the ways nonprofit staff and board members have embraced doing things differently AND changing how they respond.

I’m always looking for more examples. Share yours in the comments below or post your story on my Facebook page.

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