You may be tired of hearing yourself write. What I mean is, that same repeated thank you message might take seconds to write, because you have it down, but you might be feeling bored out of your mind.
I believe that the heart and intention we put into something we write is as valuable as our words. If you’re feeling bored and uninspired, then that card will not contain the warmth and connection you want to have for the intended receiver.
To help you refresh and feel inspired in your thank you language, we did a language exchange in our Veritus Community Hub, where our VGA participants, alumni, and clients share ideas and ask questions. Like those holiday cookie exchanges, where you bring one kind of cookie and walk away with a variety, people contributed thank you language, so that everyone could walk away with new and creative ways to thank their donors. They all gave me permission to share it with you here. I’m sure you have many more thank you’s to write, so feel free to steal what you like and make it authentically your own.
I encourage you to start by taking the language listed below and creating your own thank you language cheat sheet. Remember that, along with being thanked, donors feel inspired and connected when they are told how they’re making a difference. There are some great ideas below of how direct and indirect services organizations speak to impact, even in a short thank you note. Make sure you also take some time to write those up for your own organization.
Here’s some inspiration to help revamp your “Thank You” language:
- “We’ve built our reputation with your support.”
- “Because of friends like you, [ORGANIZATION] has been proudly serving [LOCATION] for 75 years!”
- “This is what your investment makes possible…”
- “As one of our generous supporters, you make it possible for us to do what we do, and I want to personally thank you.”
- “Everything we do is built on the generosity of our supporters. Your investment in public radio extends beyond the airwaves. You help to provide a new generation of journalists with unparalleled training and exposure. You help to strengthen local reporting with in-depth stories and on-the-ground coverage. In essence, you play a powerful role in advancing our public service mission across [REGION].”
- “With many worthy causes in need of support, we’re humbled you consider us among them. Thank you for strengthening [ORGANIZATION’S] mission and making independent journalism accessible throughout our region.”
Thank you to Ellen Soto, Director, Donor Relations and Major Gifts, WLRN Public Media Miami, for providing the above language!
- “I want to extend my thanks and appreciation for the gift you sent to help end hunger in [LOCATION].”
- “Thank you so much for including [ORGANIZATION] in your mission to end hunger! Your gift is hard at work providing nutritious food for children, older adults, and families in need…”
Shout out to Heather Schmidt, Donor Relations Officer and Grant Writer, Great Plains Food Bank, for sharing these ideas!
- “I’m reaching out to send a big thank you for supporting SNAP’s services! Your continued generosity impacts our community greatly by helping our most vulnerable neighbors.”
Thank you to Karen Pooley, SNAP, for providing the above example!
- “Thank you for your [appropriate descriptor] gift to WAMU! We are so grateful for your [# of years since first donation] of partnership in our mission to connect Washingtonians with each other and the world. In a time when so much is asked of you, we’re honored that you choose to support WAMU through your philanthropy.”
- Other endings:
“We are so grateful for your generous commitment to WAMU’s work in our shared community.”
“We are so grateful for your commitment to journalism by and for this community.”
“Every time you tune in, I hope you hear the impact of your philanthropy.”
Thank you to Sarah Cumbie, Senior Development Officer at WAMU, for sharing the language she uses in her thank you notes!
- “On a personal note, I’m so grateful to be a part of your [ORG] journey. What an impact you’re making!”
And last, but not least, thanks to Matt Gill, Client Experience Leader, Veritus Group, for sharing this wording for adding a personal touch when thanking donors!
Involving Others in Thanking Donors
On a live VGA community call, Tori Marshall, MGO WFAE, shared that something else to consider is that you are not always the *only* right person to say ‘thank you.’ What is the passion and motivation behind your donor’s giving, and who else could speak to that most directly? Tori shared that she has donors who give because of their passion for the climate and her organization’s climate change coverage. Fortunately, her Climate Change Editor is open to writing thank you notes. She has him write some as a “special treat” for these specific donors.
Cheryl McCormick, CEO Athens Humane Society, shared that in addition to writing her own notes, she has board members join her in writing thank you’s to donors giving over a certain threshold. This is not a new idea, but you may have been avoiding it because you are worried it will be even more work as you wrangle others. The trick is to make it easy for others to help. Have a meeting with an individual or group and explain the expectations and process. Give them the list of donors with contact information, a script, and the deadline so they know exactly what to do. Cheryl was kind enough to share with us the letter she has her board members tweak and use:
I hope this has been helpful and has renewed your inspiration for thanking your donors!
Before I wrap up, I also want to thank you.
Did you know that we talk about you often at Veritus? Almost daily, one of us puts a note in our internal Slack channels about how one of you has inspired us and made a significant difference in a donor’s life. I hope you can stop for a moment in this busy season and remember that so much of the success of your mission comes from your willingness to have courageous connections and relationships with donors. Your work each day is an investment in our planet, and I am so grateful for your commitment to making the world a better place.
Now, it’s time to create that cheat sheet of thank you language! Remember to bring in your authentic voice and speak to how donors impact your mission.
Lastly, when writing your thank you’s, it’s easy to feel rushed to just get the task done. Or maybe there are a million other things that are demanding your attention. I encourage you to put on some calming music (I love soft jazz). And add in some thoughts of loving kindness toward your donors. Then allow that warmth and the generosity of your heart to show through in your words.
Exactly the advice I needed, at the moment I needed it. THANK YOU, Karen and Veritus, for having our backs these last two weeks of the year.
Lisa, Thank you so much for doing the work you do every day! I’m happy to hear this was helpful. Happy Holiday! Karen
As a seasoned fundraiser, but new to public media fundraising, I really appreciated what was shared by Ellen Soto of WLRN and Sarah Cumbie of WAMU. I already used one of their suggestions today! Thank you!
Susan, That is awesome! Everyone was so generous to share their great material. Karen