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How to Create a Compelling Nonprofit Thank You Email

Online donations are steadily increasing, making the nonprofit thank you email an essential component to effective donor engagement!  

As discussed in the article about how to retain your digital donors, a thank you email should come almost immediately after someone makes an online donation.  At the most basic level, this email will serve as additional confirmation that the recipient’s donation was processed and provide them with a receipt that acknowledges their donation.

Your goal with your thank you email, however, should be anything but basic!  You’re not just thanking your donors for their donations, you’re also building on your relationships with them through your messaging.

As Adam Grant said in his book, Give and Take,

“When people know how their work makes a difference, they feel energized to contribute more.”

Creating Your Thank You Email

When you show genuine appreciation and acknowledge how a donor’s gift has made a difference, you’re more likely to see them donate to you again and in greater quantities.

Customize and Personalize

Dear Melissa [use their first name],  Thanks to you, more homeless dogs within our community [include the name of the community you share with the donor] now have a warm place to sleep and food in their bellies [acknowledge how their gift made an impact!].

Make it ALL About Them 

Your gift of $200 [acknowledge their specific gift] means that you understand just how important a warm shelter and healthy food is to the survival and quality of life of these shelter dogs.  Thanks to you [make it about them again], more loving pets can live happier, healthier and longer lives!  You’re awesome!! [give them a quick compliment!].

Let them SEE the Impact

Show your donors the impact of their donations by sharing high-quality images of projects, people or animals that your donors help to support within your thank you emails.

It’s one thing to tell your donors where their donations went, but you can make a much greater impact by showing them!

Thank You EmailYou could also invite your supporters to visit your nonprofit’s facility or one of the sites your organization supports.  This allows your donors to see the impact in person and to establish a closer connection with the people at your organization.

Provide Quick Action Items

Give your supporters an easy way to share the content of your email when they’re done reading it by including a link to a blog post or campaign page that provides a quick and easy way to share the information – either through email and/or social media!

Thank You Email

Show them Love 

Use the end of your emails as an opportunity to show your donors some lovin’.  Instead of simply saying, “Thank you!“, you could say:  “Thank you.  We love your support!” OR “Thank you.  You’re a valued member of our team!

Consider adding a special P.S. message to the end of your email:  

P.S. Your generosity is so highly appreciated that we consider you to be a member of our team and we’ll be adding your name to our annual report and newsletter!  Please feel free to stop by anytime for a tour of our facility.

Pay Attention

When asked a question or given feedback (positive or negative), pay attention, formulate a compassionate and reasonable response, and then follow-up with them promptly!

Show that you care even further by including details about your donors in your communications with them.  Details like how much each donor gave, how frequently they’ve donated, if/when they participate in events, etc.

Send it to a Person from a Person

Make sure you’re signing off on each email with your actual name, instead of just a generalized “from the team” or the name of your organization.  Let your donors know that there’s an actual person behind the email who is reaching out to say, thank you!


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