A Big Thank You: Ten Creative Ways to Show Appreciation to Your Donors

We all know how important your donors are to your church. We’ve been over that, right? Good! We all agree that the people who financially give to support the mission of your church are a pretty big deal!

If that’s true, then let us ask you this:

How often do you thank them?

Now be honest! If you really sat down and thought about, when was the last time you made a point to thank your donors for the gifts (through online giving on your church website and in person) they give to your church?

Don’t worry, we’re not going to make you share your answer with the rest of the class. That one’s just for you! But if we had to take a guess, we’d venture to say that for most of you, the amount of time you spend thanking people for what they’ve given to your church is pretty minimal.

And we’re sure you didn’t mean for it to happen that way! Just like all of us, you probably have the best intentions to make a point to say thank you. But when it comes to thanking people, good intentions are the pathway to failure.

No one feels thanked because you had the intention to say “thank you.”

People feel thanked because you actually thanked them.

Maybe you don’t put those intentions to action because it feels like an overwhelming task. And trust us, we get that! But we’re here to tell you that it doesn’t have to feel that way. Not every thank you has to be a big deal. You don’t have to throw a big party or write one hundred notes. You simply have to take a step.

Because even the smallest act of gratitude is better than the greatest intention of gratitude.

And to help you do that, we’ve come up with a list of ten creative ways to thank your donors for their gifts. This list certainly isn’t exhaustive, but it is a way to help you think outside the box and take a little bit of the guesswork out of showing your gratitude.

1. The Classic Thank You Note. This is an old favorite, but it’s a favorite for a reason. One of the most powerful things you can do is take the time to write a note to everyone who’s supported your ministry. Now before you panic like we’re asking you to write a book report or something, remember you don’t have to write a novel! A few sentences will do just fine. Postage, paper, and time are a small price to pay to thank the people who are funding your ministry every single day.

2. The Sweet Treat. Who doesn’t love a little something sweet? A candy bar, a few baked goods, a bag of sweets—those are simple, affordable ways to show your gratitude. If you want to make it personal, reach out to a spouse or friend of your donors to find out what they love and buy that specific thing. Include a small note to let them know you appreciate their gifts to your church. 

3. The Gift Card. This one is easy. Keep a collection of gift cards on hand at your church to some of the most popular local restaurants, coffee shops, or stores in your town. When someone makes a generous donation to your church, drop one of those gift cards to them in the mail to say thank you. They won’t be expecting it, and that makes the thank you all the more valuable. 

4. The Date Night. Take time to show your appreciation to the couples and families who give to your church by gifting them with a date night. Create a date night package for them, including gift cards to a restaurant or movies or a list of fun ideas for dates and some cash to use to make one of them happen. You can even host a night of free childcare at your church for your donors to give them the option to take a date night without the worry of childcare costs. Obviously you can’t do this for everyone, but when you can, it will make the couples and families feel seen and appreciated. 

5. The Personal Thank You. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It may sound old school, but a simple face-to-face, eye-to-eye “thank you” is still powerful. Go out of your way to find your donors on a Sunday morning, shake their hands, and let them know how much you appreciate their gifts to your church. It’s easy, but still meaningful and effective. 

6. The Text Bomb. Choose someone who gave to your campaign and get with your team to coordinate a time you can blow up his phone with some gratitude texts. You can literally do this once a week with a different donor in your church. Have everyone send a text around the same time thanking them for how generous and awesome they are. The more people you get to participate, the bigger the impact will be.  

7. The Public Shout Out. Take your gratitude to the Internet! Get on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and send a specific shout out to thank someone for their donation to your church. You can say something like, “Thank you (THEIR NAME) for the huge difference your gift made in sending a student to camp this summer” or “We can’t say thank you enough to (THEIR NAME) for donating to help our church reach it’s missions goal this year.” Whether someone gave a little or a lot, it’s a great way to publicly affirm them (With this, keep in mind that some people prefer to keep their giving private or anonymous, so make sure that this is okay with them first).

8. The Story Thanks. Stories are the biggest point of connection for a lot of people, so why not use them as a way to say thanks? Find a person who benefited from the money that was given to your church and tell their story. For example, if you raised money for kids in your community, find a kid who was helped by that money and have them share some of their story. You can record them on video, ask them to write it, or interview them and write it yourself. Then share it with everyone who supported that vision and remind them that they made this story happen!

9. The Phone Call. When is the last time you picked up the phone and made a call to someone just to say thanks? A text or an email is fine, but every once in awhile a good old-fashioned phone call is necessary. Pick up the phone, dial someone’s number, and say thank you. Even if they don’t answer, a heartfelt thank you on a voicemail will go a long way. 

10. The Celebration. Everyone loves a good celebration, so why not throw one in honor of all your donors? Even just once a year, host a party specifically designed to show your appreciation to the people giving to your ministry on a consistent basis. And make it fun! Sometimes the best way to say thank you is to give people the chance to have a good time.

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