My friend Kivi Miller of Nonprofit Marketing Guide recently shared the results of her annual donor gratitude experiment.  And it’s pretty bad.

She sent $20 donations to 10 national charities online and waited to see who would thank her and how they would do it.  These were national organizations and you would think they’d have their act together for thanking donors, no matter what level of gift was given.

As you can probably guess, not many responded. By Feb 18, she had heard from only 3 organizations.  Pitiful!

Come on folks!  No matter what size organization you work for, you should ALWAYS have time to thank a donor. 

If you have lots of donors to thank, then create a system to make it more efficient for you.  Not thanking donors is a good way to lose them.  And you can’t afford that.

Every donor deserves to be thanked for every gift. 

Appreciation should be expressed promptly, warmly, and sincerely.  Don’t make the donor sit and wonder if you got their gift – get a thank-you letter out to them within a couple of days.

You can read Kivi’s summary of her experiment on her blog at



  1. Sandy,

    Having read both Kivi’s original post and your reiteration of Kivi’s results, I feel compelled to lobby on behalf of the vast majority of organizations for whom development staff is one or less than one person.

    Your thesis is sound enough. Donors certainly do deserve to be thanked for their gifts as quickly and thoughtfully as is “humanly” possible. Nonetheless, the tendency of blogosphere to discriminate against small development programs is hard to dismiss in your post.

    How about a post or two in which actual strategies for small organizations are discussed? If gift acknowledgment is that important, I think some follow-on work is in order to help bridge the divide between those capable orgs that pitifully don’t value their donors and those who do but lack the resources to as you write, “ALWAYS have the time to thank a donor.”

    • Thanks for your comment Dan. I appreciate your concern for the small development shop. I’ll spend tomorrow’s post addressing your concerns.


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