More than a Thank You

I was born and raised in the south. A place where receiving a thank you note was the expectation of any and all gift givers for every possible occasion. And like most children of the south, I loved birthdays but hated the thank you note writing that would certainly follow. Today, thank you notes are not as ubiquitous as they once were. However, thank you notes are still essential as part of donor cultivation for every nonprofit organization.

You see, at the heart of a great thank you note isn’t what’s written: ‘thank you’, ‘so appreciative’ or ‘so grateful.’ At the heart of a great thank you note is the idea of witness. The acknowledgment that I see you and what you’ve done.

I see you…

Parent… who decided to donate money here rather than take an extra day on your vacation, erm, I mean, family trip.

I see you…

Young professional… who is going to have student loan debt for another month because of a choice today to donate and help others.

I see you…

Grandparent… who is choosing to leave a legacy through generosity as much as through wisdom and family recipes.

I see you…

Single mom… who is going to need more hand-me-downs because teaching generosity to your children is more important than new clothes.

I see you…

Child… who has saved up your allowance because you see the blessings in your life and want to share that with others.

I see you…

Family… who is struggling to make ends meet but still chooses to give because you have more than some.

Jesus was incredible at bearing witness. At recognizing each person in the exact situation they were in. And when He did, they often joined Him and went into deeper relationship with Him.

The same can be true for your donors.

Yes, when you take the time to bear witness to the generosity and even sacrifice of your donors there can be positive repercussions. Your donors may choose to walk with you for longer or engage more deeply. It’s not the motive behind the thank you, but it can be the fruit. While we don’t have the benefit of omniscience when we address our donors, we do know that they made choices and decisions before they ever made a donation. They took their hard-earned money and made the decision to give some of it away.

Just because it’s what God calls us to doesn’t mean it’s easy. In fact, Rick Dunham discusses the power of money in his blog post, It’s Either Going to be God… or Money. These people, your donors, chose to give away some of what they own… and some even deferred a hope or dream or desire or fleeting wish… in order to support an organization that they believe is worthy of the sacrifice.

They believed in you. It’s your job to honor that sacrifice, to bear witness to it and to spur them on in love by thanking them and sharing with them the impact of their generous gift.


Yes, to handwritten thank you notes when you can and where you can.

Yes, to automated or printed ones when handwritten notes aren’t possible.

Yes, to dedicating some of leadership’s time to thank donors (be discerning!).

Yes, to seeing thank you notes, calls, texts and emails as a critical part of your organization’s communication.

Because it’s so much more than a simple thank you.

More Insights from Dunham+Company: “The Other Church Holiday”

Ready to take the next step? Dunham+Company is here to help your organization have more impact and establish deeper relationships with your donors and supporters.