Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

From the time little humans can talk, one of the first things they’re taught is to say please and thank you. There’s just something about showing and receiving gratitude that earns it a place among the earliest values we as a society pass on to our children.

As a nonprofit professional, no one needs to tell you how important it is to thank your donors, especially after they’ve made a gift. But gratitude has tremendous power to build community in other ways. After all, giving and receiving gratitude taps into people’s emotions. (Remember the importance of Know. Feel. Do.?)

As you’re thinking about your thanking strategies, don’t forget that there are other people besides your donors who deserve recognition. And thank you notes aren’t the only way to express your gratitude. Here are a few ideas to help you thank outside the box:

Let your audience thank YOU.

Gratitude goes both ways. In fact, a sense of gratitude might be the reason your audience members donate or volunteer in the first place. Think school alumni, patients who received exceptional care, or your organization’s former clients. Give them a chance to feel good with an opportunity to express their thankfulness.

Our client The Harley School did a great job with this surrounding their Heart of Harley day of giving campaign we helped them coordinate. One component of the campaign was funding raises for teachers, whose job was especially difficult in early days of the COVID pandemic. The Harley School asked alumni to send videos thanking their favorite teacher, and the school shared the videos to their social media accounts throughout the day of giving. The result was a true celebration of love for The Harley School community—and a chance to really connect with their audience over what The Harley School was really all about.

Thank other members of your community.

There are LOTS of people besides your donors who make your organization possible. Take a moment to publicly thank your staff, your volunteers, your neighbors, your partners, even the local people and agencies who provide you with services such as crossing guards and postal workers. A little gratitude goes a long way, sometimes when you least expect it.

The posts our friends at Delaware Hospice share during Nurses and CNA weeks are some of the most shared and commented on of all their content. Patient families love this opportunity to post their own note of gratitude in response. (Double win!)

Rethink your sponsorship packages.

Saying thank you can even be an opportunity to know your audience better—including your sponsors. Whether you’re talking about an event sponsor, a program sponsor or a season sponsor, the best route to making them happy is to deliver the exposure or opportunities they’re looking for. And the best way to find out what’s meaningful to them is to ask!

Maybe your sponsor would rather be thanked with an opportunity to speak at your event instead of a table for ten at the dinner. Maybe they’d like to have an article in your e-newsletter about a specific program instead of their logo on a T-Shirt. Maybe they’d prefer a chance for their employees to experience a dedicated volunteer day at your organization. It might take a little more coordination on your part, but what’s a better investment of your resources?

Thanking people—from all aspects of your organization—makes excellent content during the lulls between asking campaigns. It’s a way to fill their cup, to help them feel seen and heard, to demonstrate they’re important and connected.

Are you stuck thanking inside the box? Give us a call at 267-468-7949 or drop us a line at for ideas about how you can break out!