Fundraising Tips

A Five-Point Gratitude Plan To Keep Your Donors Giving for Life

77% of first-time donors never give again. 

Do you want to keep your donors past the first gift?  Want them to keep coming back with bigger gifts? OF COURSE you do.

That means you need to get a SECOND gift. Your donor’s second gift is not an impulse purchase. It’s a thoughtful and personal decision, based on how you treated their first gift. They’ll probably give again–and again.

60% of repeat donors renew. 

How do you get that second gift? And the third, fourth, and…? You need to center your acknowledgment around the donor, NOT the gift transaction.  They give–and give more–from their hearts.  So you need to give heartfelt thanks.

Here’s a 5-point plan for creating an ongoing and heart-warming experience for your donors.


1. Be Prompt.

  • Gift Receipt: Yes, take care of the business end.  It builds trust.  Send the tax receipt within 48-72 hours after depositing the donor’s check or receipt of funds. Of course, you can wait longer around the holidays–the good thing is that they’ll get a receipt/TY when they give online).
  • Thank You Letters: Send the first letter within a week of their gift. Be ready to go with different letters, email templates, and other communications to your target audiences.

  • First-Gift Thank Yous:  Kick start your first-time donor’s journey with a letter that tells them:
    • You got the gift
    • They can trust you to put it to work as they intended.
    • They made an excellent decision to give to you.
    • The gift means a lot and how.
    • What happens next.
Some first-gift welcome package goodies list
  • Key-Player Letters: Send letters from critical players–like the fundraiser, your nonprofit’s leadership, and the people impacted by the gift–within a month of the gift.*

    *Send thank-you letters for the gifts you get in the high-volume month of December by the end of January.

2. Make it personal.

  • Use thank-yous to make a personal connection with the donor:
    • CALL first-time donors JUST to say, “Thank you SO much!”
    • Use donor first names in your thank you letter greeting.
    • Be warm and sincere. (e.g., I can’t thank you enough)
    • Use hero language. (e.g., Your support gives hope to our homeless youth)
    • Refer to the purpose of their gift. (e.g., Your gift to help build our new kitchen)
    • Acknowledge repeat giving. (e.g., Thank you for your ongoing/increasing support over the last ten years)
    • Hand-sign letters. And if you know them, add a special note

3. Give them a reason to trust you.

  • Keep your promises.  If you said you’ll mail a receipt, letter, or welcome package, DO IT.

4. Show them proof of impact.

  • Donors will continue giving if they know what their gifts are doing.
A few ways to show impact graph

5. Show Ongoing Gratitude.

  • Repeat your gratitude. It keeps the donor’s warm feeling about you. And your nonprofit stay “top of mind.”
  • Get creative.  Don’t just send a thank you letter just once a year. Come up with ways to let your donors know you value them and their support.  You could do things like:
    • Have a donor appreciation event.
    • Send ‘just because’ thank you tokens.
    • Hold a “thank-a-thon” where volunteers make calls, write letters, and send postcards.
    • Send a favorite recipe from a staff member or client.
    • Honor donors on your web page, social media, in publications.
Bring past donors back graph

If you ask well, you get ONE gift. If you THANK well, you can get a lifetime of giving.

light bulb inside a comment bubble


Portfolio data combined with your gift reports will help you thank your donors and plan grateful actions along the way. Want to see who ranks highest in capacity and loyal giving? Click GET A DEMO below.


Additional Resources

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