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Thank you emails made easy

In 2016, we gave you the anatomy of a great thank you email. Those general aspects of thank you emails still apply when reaching out to donors to let them know you appreciate their gifts. Today, let’s take that a step further and talk about the layout of those thank you emails and what you can do within your organization to automate the process as much as possible.

Personalized greeting

Use your nonprofit CRM hooked into an email marketing platform (like Mailchimp) to easily personalize each thank you email with a first name. Get creative and think about how you can create an email that doesn’t feel like a form letter. Use the donor’s first name in the greeting and speak in the first person; ‘I’ statements and ‘we’ statements work well. If possible, you can create multiple versions of your thank you email depending on the time of year, campaign or gift type. This will add more personalization to the process.

Body of email

Keep it short but include a heartfelt thank you and impact statements. In the body of your email, address how much you appreciate the donor and the impact of the gift—what did it go toward and how will it help others? Your donors want to know how their support is making a direct impact or difference.

Closing statement

Thank them again in closing (so, thank you to start, thank you to end). Sign the email from someone on your team or a leading member of the organization; be sure it’s coming from an individual, not the organization as a whole. You want to show that someone took the time to think about what this thank you message says and who it is from. Don’t forget to send it from a valid email that can accept replies.

Call to action

I want to be clear: Your call to action on a thank you email should not be to give again, to continue to give or have any alluding sentences to the aspect of giving. It can, however, provide additional information such as your social media handles, a link to an exclusive donor-only online event or even the direct phone number to your executive director or whomever the letter is from if the donor has additional questions. Provide them with easy ways to stay involved and that’s it. Requests for additional gifts come later—much later.

Automate the process

Use your online giving software platform to automate the thank you email process. In addition, when donors give a gift online, set up an auto-generated thank you page on-screen that they see right after hitting “submit” on their gift. This assures your donors that their gift has been processed and acts as an immediate start to your acknowledgment process.

Building an easy-to-navigate donation landing page, syncing your online giving with your donor CRM and establishing a donor touchpoint cadence will all help in this automation process. Don’t forget to think about how you’ll acknowledge your offline donors, too!

Finally, don’t just rely on your automated thank you emails to show your donors you care. Establish a routine thank you schedule throughout the year to let donors know how much they mean to your organization. You can find 12 donation thank you ideas here, on our free download page.


Ronald Pruitt

Ronald Pruitt

Ronald is the President and Founder of 4aGoodCause, the fundraising CRM that makes recurring, monthly giving a breeze for small nonprofits.

For over 25 years, Ronald has had the joy of doing what he loves, building online solutions that make a difference in the world. He’s helped raise millions of dollars online for small nonprofits across the country. Connect with Ronald on LinkedIn.

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