Donors to your capital campaign are arguably the most important donors to your organization. That includes monthly and annual donors who are also likely to donate to your campaign.

In this season of giving thanks, it would be remiss of us not to remind you of all the creative and authentic ways you can (and should!) thank your donors.

Why Thanking Donors is So Critical to Your Campaign

First, let’s look at some reasons why it’s so critical to thank your donors regularly. Genuine and authentic gratitude leads to:

  • happier donors
  • positive feelings about your organization
  • future giving / gifts

Capital campaigns are an opportunity to engage the community, as well as provide a positive partnership and donation opportunities with donors of all sizes — especially lead donors. During the holiday season, it’s even more important to reach out to those who make your work possible.

Therefore, you’ll want to take full advantage of the season to show meaningful gratitude to donors as you pave the way for a successful capital campaign.

7 Creative Ways to Authentically Thank Your Donors

So how can you stand out, rise up, and get noticed amid all the holiday “noise”?

1. Video Thank-You’s

In this digital age, you can easily be sending video thank-you messages. For your biggest donors, personal messages are appropriate and more generic ones for lower level donors.

Your videos don’t need to be expensive or highly-produced. Simply use your phone to record grateful clients or community members, thanking donors. There are also many companies springing up to help you create personal thank you videos including ThankView. (I’m not endorsing them; just providing an example.)

2. Mission-Centered Thank-You’s

The most meaningful thank-you is one that’s connected to your mission. Consider these examples:

  • A drawing or note from your clients
  • A link to a song or performance by clients
  • A small gift (something made by clients or related to your mission)

3. Kitschy Thank-You’s

You might try a play-on-words (or something similar) to stand out and be remembered. For example:

  • Send a roll of Life-Saver candies because your donors are ”life-savers”.
  • Attach a few Hershey Kisses as a sweet touch to say, “We appreciate you.”
  • Include a packet of hot cocoa because their ongoing support warms your heart.

Something small with a thoughtful note will go a long way and help your organization stand out. The more personal your note, the more memorable your gesture will be.

4. Public Recognition Thank-You’s

Some donors love to see their name up on a wall. But don’t take this responsibly lightly.

If you have a space where donors and community members are likely to pass through, pick your donor wall (plaques) thoughtfully. Ask lead donors to weigh in on final designs and donor wall option options.

5. Honors and Awards as Thank-You’s

Most people like to be recognized. With a simple certificate from your printer (there are hundreds of templates on the internet) and an inexpensive frame, you can present your donors with a certificate of recognition.

6. A Simple Thank-You Message

Pick up the phone and simply say thank you. This simple act of kindness is not used often enough in nonprofit fundraising.

Ask yourself, do you call every donor who makes a gift to your organization? If not, you may not be using this effective strategy nearly enough.

7. Old-School Thank-You’s

A pen-to-paper note really stands out in our printed and digital world. This is especially true if you’re able to say something specific about the donor. Aim to write one thing which would be meaningful to that specific donor.

For example:

Dear Susan,

We so appreciate your participation on the feasibility study committee for our campaign. We know you’re busy with your kids, grand kids, and volunteer work at the hospital. That makes your decision to volunteer for our campaign even more meaningful and we are truly grateful.

I’m also writing to thank you for making a leadership level gift. Your early participation in the campaign will undoubtedly inspire others to participate.



Once you’ve finished writing your note, ask someone else at the organization to read it. Can they identify who you’re talking about without knowing the recipient? Or is it too generic (something that could go to any donor)?

If it’s too generic, keep revising until you make it personal and memorable.

How You Say Thank You Matters — Make it Personal

What follows are several examples from Andrea Kihlstedt, my partner. They won’t be your style, but that’s just the point. They are distinctly her style. And that’s what makes them personal.

Dear Jerry,

Wow. I’m sure you can’t even imagine what came over me when I saw your gift. It stopped me in my tracks. Why?  Because it was from you!

You’ve helped us again and again in so many ways.You’ve given us advice… and great advice at that. You’ve introduced us to your friends. And now… a check.

The words “thank you” don’t come close to expressing how grateful I am to have you on our side.

The work you help us do really does change people’s lives.

With my profound appreciation,


Or, it might go something like this:

Zowie, Sali!

A check came from you in the mail today. And though you will get official thanks soon — you know, the “Dear Sali, Thank you for your generous gift…” kind of thanks — I wanted to let you know that I saw your contribution and I so appreciate it.

We’ve been friends and colleagues for years now, Sali, and so when you send a contribution to something I work so hard at, it makes me feel special. Your support means a great deal to me! And beyond that, it makes a big difference in keeping our work in the community alive.

Looking forward to seeing you soon.


Or even something as simple as this:

Dear Dale,I’m racing off to a meeting this very minute, but I couldn’t resist shooting you an email to let you know that your gift, which just arrived, fills me with pleasure.  We couldn’t do this without your support.

Stay tuned for more official thanks. But know that I appreciate you right this very minute!And now, I really am running late. 🙂


It takes no more than a minute or two to write an email like that or to send a short text. Here’s an example of a text.

Got your gift today. My heart is full of thanks for you!

But while these little messages don’t take long to write and send, they can make ALL the difference in your campaign.

Thanking People Every Day Will Energize Your Capital Campaign

It’s the nature of capital campaigns that people are called on to go above and beyond. Volunteers, staff, donors are asked to stretch in every way. Your ability to recognize the gifts of time and energy and money to your campaign is what will make your campaign soar.

Right from the start, get used to writing email notes or texts to people every day, letting them know that you’ve noticed their work and commitment and energy, and that you appreciate them.

Write them in your own style, from your heart. Don’t fret about grammar or much of anything else. But do make sure that the message is real and immediate and heartfelt.

Heartfelt, Creative Gratitude Is Always Memorable

When gratitude is personal, creative and meaningful, it will be remembered by your donor. And when it comes time to ask for a contribution to your campaign, your donor will be eager to help.

But no matter how memorable your thank-you is, the most important part of successful stewardship is that your gratitude is genuine and heartfelt — no matter the gift size. In addition, always make sure a donor knows how their gift made a difference.


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