How to Make Your Donors Feel Appreciated: Checklists, Templates, and Ideas To Get You Started

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Making sure your donors feel appreciated is an important part of donor retention. As a nonprofit, preserving and deepening your relationship with your donors is essential to your fundraising strategy. Thank your donors regularly with heartfelt, personalized outreach that will stand out. 

Struggling to know where to start to make sure your donors feel appreciated? Keep reading for a checklist, simple advice, and some easy templates to help you make sure your donors feel appreciated. These donor thank you templates will help your supporters feel appreciated and recognized. 

Use Donor-First Language

When you are communicating with donors, make sure that your language is donor-first. Rather than making the main focus of your communication what your organization has done, dial in on donor appreciation. Phrase your accomplishments in terms of how your donors made this kind of impact possible instead of what you’ve done. Opening sentences with clauses like “thanks to friends like you” can be an easy way to keep the focus on gratitude for your donors and their support, rather than what your organization has done.

Free Donor Thank You Checklist

Whether you have a robust donor appreciation program already or are just starting a donor thank you program, this checklist can help you appreciate your donors regularly and avoid missing an opportunity to thank your donors. 


  • Include a message of thanks to donors in every fundraising appeal
  • Send donors a thank you message around the holidays, especially on Thanksgiving
  •  Kick off the New Year with a thank you to donors
  •  Invite your donors to special events like fundraising dinners or Lunch with the President
  •  Ask your donors to volunteer as trusted partners
  •  Open up a special committee for donors that allows them to give input and support your mission
  •  Send a handwritten note
  •  Share a video message from the people your nonprofit serves

Schedule in Thank You Messages

Set up your donor communication program to include regular donor thank you messages. Rather than having to add in an additional team or capability to make sure your donors feel appreciated, you can leverage some of the channels and tactics you are already using as a nonprofit to thank your donors and make sure they feel appreciated. Starting a donor thank you program is as simple as adding in some language. 

In Every Donation Ask

Every time you are asking your donors for support, you should be thanking them for what they’ve done before. Without the generous support of your donors, your organization couldn’t make the impact you do. Try using some of these phrases in your next donation appeal to help thank your donors and make sure that your donors feel appreciated.


  •  “Thanks to the generous support of friends like you, XX people have been given an opportunity to… Will you help make sure we can provide XX?”
  •  “Our supporters have made this possible for XX people already this year. Thanks to you, they have another chance…”
  • “Every day we’re reminded of the thousands of generous people like you who help make this work possible. Will you lend your support once again to help…”
  • “Because of the kindness of people like you, John was able to…”

    These donor thank you language templates can help you add appreciation for your donors into every communication where you ask them to renew their support. 

Around Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a great time to remind your donors how much you appreciate their support. Make sure to personalize notes as much as you can and add a story or message from someone their gift helped. It’s an easy way to join in the holiday spirit and help your donors feel appreciated. 

New Year Messages

As you start the new year, it’s a good time to rethink your donor appreciation strategy. Your donors might be feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the holiday and end-of-year asks, so taking some time to wish them a happy new year and reflect on what their generosity has done can go a long way. Send them a note at the beginning of the year that reflects on their support and what they have made possible. 

Offer Unique Opportunities

Your donors give because they believe in your cause and want to help. Their generosity is something worth recognizing, and there are a few ways you can show your donors your appreciation. Besides saying thank you, you can also invite your donors to special, exclusive events just for that group. By having behind-the-scenes opportunities, your supporters will feel like they are a part of the organization and will be sure to share with others about the work you are doing and what they are helping make possible. 

Special Events for Faithful Donors

One easy way to make your donors feel appreciated is by holding special, donor-only events. These can be things like Lunch with the President or a unique social gathering. You can host donors at your organization’s headquarters or reserve space at a beloved local restaurant or event venue. The event doesn’t have to be fancy—for high-end donors, you may want to make it a bit more formal, but in general, a casual but intimate setting will help your donors feel like they are a part of the group. You can add events like this into your regular event calendar alongside fundraising events like a gala to engage your supporters throughout the year. 

Volunteer Opportunities for Donors

Give your donors unique, hands-on chances to help out with your work. By reaching out to them for volunteer opportunities as well as their financial support, you’ll show your donors how much you value their support and help. Consider offering unique, more personal volunteer opportunities for donors that allow them to interact with people that benefit from your work—the one-on-one relationships they will get to build will help them feel even more connected to your mission. Donor appreciation also means donor engagement, and volunteer opportunities are a great way to connect with your supporters.

Committee Service for Donors

Invite some of your faithful donors to serve on a committee. This can be an event planning committee for one of your fundraising events like your annual gala. It can also be a committee that gives feedback on initiatives, marketing, or other areas where you could use more support. You can use this setting as a focus group of sorts to test out new ideas and get feedback before you showcase them to the public. Your donors will feel appreciated that you value your opinion so highly, and you’ll have a unique opportunity to gain insight into what they think of your mission and organization. This can also be a great context to test out changes like rebranding, new ways of explaining your mission, and more.

How to Write the Best Donor Thank You Letter: A Donor Thank You Letter Template

One of the most important parts of your donor appreciation program is a powerful donor thank you letter. Your donor thank you letter should be a major tool to show your supporters how much you appreciate their gifts.


Open with “Dear Name” instead of “Friend” or something more generic. Include the amount they contributed, as well, to showcase that this was prepared specifically for them.

Open with Impact

Whenever you open a donor thank you letter, it should start with their impact. Talk about what their support has made possible. Your first few sentences should put their support in the context of how it made a difference for your cause. Begin with a story or statistics that showcase how they have made a positive impact.

Focus on the Donor, Not the Organization

It can be tempting to talk a lot about your organization in a letter to your donors. You care about your mission and you want to showcase all the great ways you are making use of their funds. While this is an understandable impulse, it’s important that all of your communication is focused on your donors and their impact, not your organization. You want to explain what they made possible more than you talk about your nonprofit. 

Say Thank You

This may seem like a no-brainer, but you do need to actually say thank you! Make sure your message of gratitude is central to the letter—consider offsetting it as a separate paragraph to make it stand out. You can even include it as a blockquote with a different color background or further indents to make sure that one of the first things they notice in your letter is that you are thankful for them.

Reflect on Their Generosity

In addition to directly saying thank you, spend some time in your letter reflecting on what that generosity means for your organization and the people you serve. You can use this opportunity to help them realize what a significant impact they make as well as remind them that they are not the only ones who support your cause—they are a part of something bigger than themselves.

Share How They Can Stay in Touch

Another great thing to include in your donor thank you letter is a way they can stay up-to-date on what is going on at your nonprofit. Encourage them to subscribe to your newsletter, follow your organization on social media, or sign up for a tour. These simple offers will give them a chance to engage further if they’d like to and can be great opportunities for you to reach them with your message more consistently. 

Include a Real Signature

Don’t forget to sign your donor letter with a real signature. If you can, use an actual pen instead of printing a signature if you are sending a physical copy. That personal touch will help your donors feel appreciated and they’ll notice the time you took to actually sign the note. 

Add a P.S.

Adding a postscript is a time-honored tradition in fundraising communications—and no wonder why, it works! Use the P.S. to drive home something important for your donors, whether that’s a reminder of an upcoming event, a way they can stay in touch, or a campaign they can help support. 




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