End-of-year fundraising season is upon us, and if you’re like most fundraisers out there, you’re probably frantically trying to write killer appeals. I bet you’re feeling the pressure too—and for good reason. With many nonprofits raising as much as half of their annual budget in December alone, there’s a lot riding on your success.  

Hours of writing, editing, rewriting, and testing go into crafting something that inspires donors to give. It’s no wonder that many fundraisers find themselves so exhausted by the time they send their appeals that the last thing on their mind is writing a heartfelt thank you message or reporting back to the donor on how their gift made an impact.

Trust me when I say that this is something you can’t afford to just put off until next year. One of the main motivating factors that influences donors to give is hearing about the impact they’ve made on your mission.  

However, according to Lynne Wester, “More than 80% of donors say they were never told the outcome of their gift.”  

In order to make time to thank donors and share the impact they made, you likely need to get some time back in your schedule. But how do you do that? 

In this post, I’ll share one way I’ve found to save time and boost donor retention at the end of the year.  

Write your appeal and thank you messages and report back to your donors all at the same time.  

One way to save time is to write all of your content at the same time.

Think about it. A good appeal describes a need and shares how the donor’s gift will be used. When you write your thank you message and the one you send reporting back on the impact they made, you should use that same language to communicate your appreciation.  

Resource: Want some help with crafting your thank you message? Here’s a cheat sheet of the dos and don’ts of writing a perfect thank you.  

What should you include in the impact message you send to your donors?

What should you include in that message that describes the impact your donor had on your work? 

In your letter or email, you should include: 

  • A heartfelt thank you. Make sure this is as specific as possible. Use the data in your donor database to pull the exact donation amount and include that in the message. 
  • A description of the need they helped meet. Again, this is a place to get as specific as possible. If your call to action included a specific ask, you need to address that specific ask in this message. 
  • A short story of how the need was met. If possible, use a story to illustrate how the need was met. If you can include a video or photo, do so! Visuals go a long way in showing donors exactly how they made a difference.  
  • Another note of appreciation. At the end of your letter or email, express your gratitude again. You want your message of appreciation to come across as sincere and really drive home how much they helped. Thanking them again is one way to do that.

Note: Although your automated acknowledgement might include a short thank you message, don’t rely on this as your main note of appreciation. Your donors deserve a separate thank you message! 

Here’s an example from a nonprofit that asked supporters to help them raise money for after school programs, which included homework help and tutoring services.

I hope this tip helps you inspire a sense of accomplishment in your donors and keeps them engaged with and invested in your mission for years to come! 

Rachel Muir
Rachel Muir, CFRE transforms individuals into confident, successful fundraisers. When she was 26 years old, Rachel Muir launched Girlstart, a non-profit organization to empower girls in math, science, engineering and technology in the living room of her apartment with $500 and a credit card. Several years later she had raised over 10 million dollars and was featured on Oprah, CNN, and the Today show.