Thanking Donors

Going the extra mile by sending your donors a personalized thank you message is a great way to show them how much you value their support. Thank you cards, phone calls, and other thoughtful methods of recognition can also serve as the first step towards cultivating long-term relationships with your donors.

Sample Thank You Cards

Subject: Thank You for Making the 2024 Giving Challenge a Huge Success!


Thank you so much for your generous gift of $[x]. Because of your contribution, we will be able to [Concrete objective your organization will be able to accomplish or item your organization will purchase because of this donation]. This means so much to us and to all of the individuals our organization works to support every day!

None of this could happen without you!


Subject: Looking to the Future


Because of your generous gift of $[x] during the 2024 Giving Challenge we were able to [Concrete objective your organization will be able to accomplish or item your organization will purchase because of this donation], but we still have a long way to go! Join us for these upcoming volunteer opportunities to help us keep our momentum alive!

[include list of upcoming volunteer or donation needs your organization has scheduled].

Thank you again for all that you do! Our organization and community would not be the same without you.


Subject: The Giving Challenge is happening again! Are you ready?


In 2022, because of your generous gift during the Giving Challenge our organization was able to accomplish [x]!

As we gear up for this year’s Giving Challenge, we are hoping to accomplish even more, but we need your help!

Our goal for this year is $[x], with which we are planning to [objective that you will hope to accomplish for next year’s Giving Challenge].

We are looking forward to having your support again!


Tips for Making Thank You Calls

Quick Checklist for Brilliant Donor Thank You Calls

A personal phone call is one of the most effective ways for your organization to show timely and genuine appreciation for your donors after the Giving Challenge. Below are some steps to help you develop and implement a successful thank you call strategy:

If you are a smaller organization, every call to each individual donor can help - even for the smallest donations that you have received!

If you are a larger organization that receives too many donations to feasibly be able to call each individual donor to say thank you, you might have to be more discerning about who receives a personalized thank you call. A good rule of thumb might be making sure that all first-time donors giving $100 or more receive calls.

For repeat donors, you might reserve calls for those giving at your major gift level ($500-$1000 or more).

If you have any recurring donations we suggest, as a best practice, calling at least once annually to connect and thank them for their ongoing support.

Recruit anyone you can! Your board members, Staff Members, and Volunteers would all be excellent resources because they are much more likely to be genuine and passionately grateful when speaking on the phone with your donors.

You might also consider having the beneficiaries of your organization make some of the calls. Doing something like this would create a very concrete and tangible link between your donor’s gift and the population your organization supports.

Whoever you choose to make the calls, make sure they are engaged and genuine, rather than robotically making calls. Thank you calls should not feel like phone banking! They should be sincere and genuine attempts to show your donors how much you appreciate them.

The best time to make a thank you call is within a month of receiving the gift. After a month has passed, a call is more likely to be perceived as an additional solicitation. For new donors and significant gifts, experts from Network For Good suggest calling within 48 hours of receiving the donation.

What to Say

Obviously each thank you call will be different depending on caller, donor, gift amount, and perceptiveness/enthusiasm. The best thank you calls are brief and to the point and should be made with a smile on your face (this will put a smile in your voice!).

Consider making a “Thank You” script beforehand and share it with anyone who will be responsible for calling donors. This script should be used primarily as a guideline and is not something that should be repeated word-for-word. Here is an excellent template to work with:

    “Hi [Donor Name]! This is [Caller Name] with [Organization Name], and I just called to say how much we appreciate your recent gift to support us during the 2024 Giving Challenge!”

The greatest impact of a thank you call should come from the purity of its intent. Donors will likely be pleasantly surprised that you’ve called simply to express gratitude and that you do not want anything else from them. The above message is short enough to start an authentic dialogue with your donor and to take a pulse check on their interest in future opportunities.

If the donor is enthusiastic about chatting with you more about your organization, you might expand your conversation by asking these key questions:

  1. Why does our organization matter to you?
  2. What interests you the most about our organization?
  3. What expectations do you have of the organizations you support?
  4. Would you like to be involved with us in other ways beyond being a donor?

These questions can help to move your thank you call beyond a simple statement of gratitude towards making a concrete connection with your donor - and that is what donor stewardship is all about!

If you reach someone’s voicemail, you will want to leave a message and, for that, you should consider a slightly more detailed approach:

    “Hi [Donor Name]! This is [Caller Name] with [Organization Name]. I’m just calling to thank you for the donation you made during the 2024 Giving Challenge. Your generous donation will truly make a difference towards [goal or upcoming project] and I wanted to tell you personally how much we appreciate it.”

This message is detailed and informative while being short and to the point so as to hold your donor’s attention while they listen to their message. After leaving a voice message, you can decide whether you want to follow up with your donor a second time to see if you can catch them on the phone in person.

Whether you simply leave a message or have an in-depth conversation with a donor you’ll want to record the results of your conversation so that you can keep track of all of your stewardship efforts. If multiple people are making calls (which will likely be the case) make sure that they are all kept in the same place so that everyone can refer to them and that your organization can use this data to build more donor-centric relationships.

Make specific notes about whether you left a voicemail or were able to reach someone in person, how the donor responded to being called, and if you were able to speak about why they gave. You can also make note of any changes to their contact information.