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What Makes a Great Thank-You Note

Updated: Feb 9

We were all taught “please” and “thank you.” But in the business of fundraising, it is imperative to say “thank you” three, four, five, or more times than you say “please.” Thank your donors well, thank them often, and thank them in multiple ways. One of those tried-and-true avenues is a simple, obvious, yet effective one: the thank-you note.

A pen on top of white paper with a handwritten "thank you!" on it.

The thank-you note is a vital cultivation step with your donor base (and it’s just a nice thing to do). But a blank note can be intimidating, and you’re not sure where to start. Listed below are a handful of suggestions on what to include your note. While you may not include everything listed here, points 1 through 4 are vital. 

  1. Thank them for their generosity and stewardship of God’s money. This may be an opportunity to thank them for their regular donations and/or their lifetime giving. “I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for your generosity in giving to our organization.”

  2. Indicate how their gift arrived: was it online, mail, stock, etc.? “Your gift arrived in this morning’s mail.”

  3. Share with them the “bigger picture” progress on the annual fund, campaign, or other goals. Include what the annual fund does for your ministry or the reason for the campaign if you’re in one. Additionally, include how others are responding and how all giving is impacting the ministry work, but be thoughtful about whose names you can use. “With this gift, we are now well over halfway to meeting our annual fund.”

  4. As you write the note, remember (and subtly remind them) that the donor is “giving through, not to” your organization. “Your giving throughout this year has had a tremendous impact in our mission.”

  5. Tell them how their gift encouraged you, your organization’s leadership, or others.

  6. Tell a recent story of a person or group who was impacted by your organization.

  7. Give the case for why your organization is needed more than ever today.

  8. Report on positive data, e.g., the number of people impacted, benefits for the community, cultural impact. 

  9. Include a picture of your organization’s work or an article that may interest the giver.

It goes without saying that the more personal you make the note, the better. The human element of a handwritten note does not go unnoticed. For those cursed with poor penmanship, a typed note may be the more prudent method, but it is essential to sign the note with a pen and even add a quick sentence of thanks. 

Finally, be aware that a thank-you note is different from a gift receipt—another essential step for you and your donor’s record-keeping—though it can certainly coincide with the receipt. And remember that this is just one of three times you should be thanking each donor: 1) verbally when the donor commits to the gift, 2) a gift receipt acknowledging the receipt, amount, and application of the gift, and 3) this personal thank-you note.


At Canaan Group & Associates, we want to see a culture of generosity thrive at your organization through excellent care for your donors and community. If you’d like to learn more on how CG&A can elevate your fundraising efforts, contact us today.



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