Donor Recognition Ideas to Keep Them Coming Back

Following is a guest post from Dan Hoffman, CEO of GivingGrid, a visually fun and creative online fundraising tool.

You did it! You made it through another year without being committed to the funny farm. I know, it was super intense and stressful, but now you can take a breath and relax, right?


While the heavy lifting and virtually knocking down doors for donations is over, it’s time to thank your donors. Thanking your donors is critically important if you want them to continue to be your donors.

There are countless things you can do to recognize donors, but here are my top eight:

  1. Say THANK YOU! Rule #1, right? First, you’d be surprised how many people don’t say thank you and second, you might not be surprised at how many people just let that auto thank you email from your website or a third party fundraising platform take care of things. That might be okay for the $10 and $20 dollar donations, but what about $100, $250 and $500+ ones? Is an auto form letter email enough? Nope! It’s nice right after the fact and it does help confirm an online donation, but that’s about it. It’s not personalized! How can you create a friendship with a form letter?
  2. Write a short and sweet custom email. Personalize it. Get creative. Spend a couple of minutes and check their Facebook and LinkedIn pages or Google them. Find out who they really are.
  3. How about a hand-written note? OMG, does anyone even know how to handwrite anymore? It’s a dying art form, which is all the more reason you should do it. By the way, get your donors birthdays and send them a real card. The couple of bucks you spend can go a long way.
  4. Reply to comments. At, when someone makes a donation, they upload a photo with a message and create a simple donation page. We encourage our fundraisers to thank the donors that leave comments on their fundraising page.
  5. Publish Facebook post about a donor. A nice little mini story on them. Make it personal and warm. It will take two minutes.
  6. Include a mini bio or history of your relationship with a donor or donors in a newsletter. Not simply a name on one of those long lists. Talk about how you met or their personal experience with your organization.
  7. Give your donor a brick. Give larger donors (maybe $500+) a brick, tile or plaque on or in your building as a gift and not something they opted to pay for. Send them a couple photos (with some staff standing next to it with big smiles) to say thank you.
  8. Send M&Ms. Send medium size donors (maybe $100+) a nice big bag of M&Ms with a thank you note. You have no idea what a surprise it will be and how much the $10 – $15 expense (including shipping) will earn you.

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John Haydon