[FREE IMAGES] Last-Minute Ways to Thank Your Donors This Thanksgiving

Growing up, my parents would tell my brothers and me that it was the little things in life that mean the most to others.

Mostly, it was when we were being rude or not listening to others. (Rarely happened, I might add!) “It’s the little things you do and say that people will remember,” they’d remind us to get us quickly back in line.

Today, my parents’ words ring true whenever I question the impact of “the little things” we do to thank planned giving donors. Do you wonder the same, as in how you, your planned giving development team and your organization all say thank you to your donors? What kind of impact will your gratitude have on their lives as well?

SIDENOTE: This image also comes to mind when I think of the impact of the little things we do and say that donors will remember. It’s a lot easier to climb that ladder with small steps toward building real donor relationships—those where you consider the person, not just the gift.


The little ways in which we thank donors are indeed powerful and especially needed in this year of constant change and physical separation.

The numbers tell us that giving thanks to donors, immediately and repeatedly, bears promising results. For example, according to Guidestar data, donors who received a thank-you message within 48 hours were 4 times more likely to give again.

True, this stat relates mainly to new donor retention. But think of what it’s saying within the larger picture of planned giving cultivation. Thanking donors, immediately and repeatedly, sets a precedence of gratitude from the first donor touchpoint. It proves to them that you’re not in it (the donor relationship) just for the gift. You’re in it as long-term partners in moving the mission ahead.

So do the little things. They will mean the most in the eyes of your donors.


Write your thanks.

  • With a handwritten note. If it’s not feasible to send one to all your donors, segment specific donor groups (e.g., those who’ve notified you of their gift intention within the last year or new donors or prospects you’ve talked to within the last six months). Other groups can receive a typed, more formal note but include a handwritten signature and short personal note at the bottom.

TIP: Decide who the “best person” is to sign them. Look at this way, says fundraising expert Tammy Zonker: If you were a donor, who would you like to hear from most? A child who says thank you for the food they received, a nurse who shares her praises for a new piece of needed equipment funded by legacy gifts or an esteemed board member?

  • With a “recipe” of thanks sent to donors, digitally or sent through mail. Share a recipe from a staff member or supporter, or something special served in your kitchens; whatever’s unique to your group or organization. Include a note of gratitude (that hopefully will turn into a keepsake) at the bottom of the recipe.

Video your thanks.

  • Content consumption is through the roof in 2020, with video leading the way (and it’s not just YouTube or streaming services like Hulu or Netflix). Utilizing short, unfiltered video is a sure-fire way to connect with donors, in a time when they need connection the most. To truly resonate with donors, show a more genuine, human side of you and your organization. This is especially important to be mindful of today, as humanity may be a new KPI (Key Performance Indicator) for marketing programs to keep an eye on in the future.
  • Check out my recent comments in Chatfuel’s blog about the power of video for GivingTuesday or head over to ThankView to learn what they’re doing to make video easier for nonprofits.

Declare your thanks.

  • With the help of co-workers, volunteers, kids, students, moms, dads—anyone who’s affiliated with your organization and willing to share what they’re thankful for this year. Capture it on video and share socially or through a special thank-you email to donors. This year certainly has been one for the books, but there’s always space for gratitude. When it’s shared, it grows!

Share your thanks.

  • With a social-channel note of gratitude. Your social channels are perhaps the most visible marketing tool your organization has. Get visual with it and show impact with photos of people, animals, forests, environments, all the big things you’ve made better because your nonprofit exists in this world.

TIP: Include a soft call to action, which can be a quick reminder of your nonprofit’s mission by linking to your website or other social spaces. In “Avoid These! 10 Mistakes in Calls to Action,” from Stelter Editorial Director Katie Parker, we share tips and other no-goes for writing smart CTAs.

  • Feel free to use these unique social images, courtesy of Stelter, to thank your donors on Thanksgiving. Simply click, save and share. (No need to mention that the images came from us.)

Images for Instagram:

Images for everything else:

Have you had moments where “the little things” meant the most to your donors? Any particularly successful last-minute ways you’ve shared thanks with them? For more tips on connecting with your donors this holiday season, read our recent blog, “5 of the Best Ways to Make Your Holiday Donor Outreach Magical This Year.”

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving! You do good work every day. We at Stelter give thanks for that.

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