Fundraising tips | How to thank your donors

Gratitude and acknowledgement are crucial components of your fundraising campaign, not only in regard to the support you’ve received for your project, but for your long-term relationship. Make sure you thank your donors!

The gratitude effect was examined in a 2010 study by Adam M. Grant and Francesca Gino, which used Eric, a fictitious student, to ask participants for help writing a cover letter. To all the participants, Eric responded by asking for more help with a second cover letter. But here’s the trick – only half the participants got a thankful response. The effect of Eric’s gratitude was significant – 66% of participants responded to Eric’s gratitude by offering further assistance, whereas only 32% offered assistance after receiving a neutral reply from Eric.

Why are gratitude and acknowledgement so important?

To show donors that their contribution is valued

– Saying thank you and showing appreciation confirms to the donor that you value their contribution.

Relationship building

– A 2014 study showed that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship
– A donation to your project should be the beginning of a fruitful, ongoing relationship with your donor, not a once-off transaction.

Your donor wants a connection

– Your donor donated because they like, want to support and, be involved in what you do.
– In a 2008 Bank of America survey on why wealthy donors stop giving, six out of 10 donors stated that it was because they no longer felt connected to an organisation.
– See also the 2009 report on Fundraising in Tough Times from the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

You must maintain this connection

– You want your donor to carry your vision into the community, to be a champion of your work. To do this, they need to be involved.

It’s good for the arts

– The Eric study showed that participants thanked by Eric were twice as likely to help another student who asked for help.
– Gratitude is good for the arts as a whole and will help your fellow artists.

How can I acknowledge my donors beyond just saying thank you?

A full list of your donors is available in your Artist Dashboard. 97% of ACF donors want the recipient to know who they are, and 80% are happy to be publicly listed. So make sure you make your donors feel loved and appreciated.

Need some ideas?

• Thank them in your program or catalogue
• Meet with them to discuss your project and practice, and to personally say thank you
• Publicly thank them through social media
• Email them
• Write them a thank you card or handwritten letter
• Take them out for a coffee
• Record a thank you video
• Acknowledge them on your website
• Pick up the phone and give them a call
• Share recent progress – keep donors in the loop about what’s going on. They do care – trust us!

Gratitude comes in many forms and every gesture counts. And, if all of the above isn’t incentive enough to thank your donors, remember that, according to studies, grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier. Bonus!