Thank You by stevendepolo on FlickrI looked over lots of nonprofit “thank you” language last week, since Thanksgiving is a natural time for nonprofits to openly share their gratitude with supporters. But the best thank yous are much more than simply those two words, as powerful as they may be. A really good, powerful nonprofit thank you does a bit more.

Here’s a formula for you:

Powerful Nonprofit Thank You = Greeting Card + Progress Report + Invitation

Let’s look at those three parts a bit more carefully.

Greeting Card

The best nonprofit thank yous feel friendly, warm, and personal. And yet they are still relatively short. Think of a good Hallmark card (not the ones with four paragraphs of flowery script about how much you really do love your mother-in-law, but the shorter ones that lay it all out there in under 30 words).  They connect directly, and quickly. They feel personal, even though we know they were written for thousands of others.

Progress Report

Your supporters want to know that they matter. So give them little nuggets, little gems of progress that show that with their support — and directly because of that support — you are bringing about some kind of change, or making life easier for someone, or advancing the cause another step along the way.  Maybe it’s a short anecdote, or a telling testimonial, or an impressive statistic. But share a little bit of progress in your thank yous.


You want your supporters to stay on with you, so invite them to do so. Invite them to your next event, or give them a sneak preview of what you’ll include in your next newsletter. Ask them to follow you on Facebook or Twitter, or watch a video you just posted. But offer another way to stay connected, beyond asking for another financial donation, in your thank yous.

What elements — beyond gratitude itself — do you think belong in this thank you formula? Leave your ideas in the comments.

I’ll share more advice and examples during Writing Thank-You Notes That Inspire Future Gifts on December 7.

Published On: November 28, 2011|Categories: Fundraising|