How Often Should You Send a Thank-You Note?
My mom taught me the discipline of handwritten thank-yous. This post shares how I’ve applied my upbringing to our relationships with our financial partners. You’ll find lots of answers online for how often you should send a thank-you note. I’m writing here about thanking donors for donations and gifts. (For situations beyond my article, see the Reader’s Digest post in NOTES.)
Pick one of these three ideas to try for this coming year. Will you:
- Have a plan so that all ministry partners are receiving thank-you notes?
- Buy nice stationery? Order commemorative stamps? Enclose a small gift?
- Use one of my two free downloads?
1. Make Plans for Regular Thank-You Notes
I relied on automatic reminders to write a thank-you to every donor. Even with an annual thank-you note reminder, I overlooked some financial partners. For instance, if I recorded a thank-you for dinner, a notification to write a thank-you would come up a year later. The result? Our friend may not have had a thank-you for a donation for even two years.
- Double-check from time to time or find a way of avoiding these oversights. After thanking for a dinner or a present, set a task for a donation thank-you in four to six months, then you’ll be on track again.
- I make sure I’m sending thank-yous for faithful, regular donations, and for special gifts. (A few years ago, I discovered our loyal monthly partners were only receiving thank-yous for their fund appeal responses.)
- One thank-you note per year may not be enough for some donors. Do they give more than $XXX per month? (You decide the amount). Send two thank-you notes per year.
Decide how many thank-yous you’ll be sending and how you want to track/remind yourself.
2. Get Ready
I have lovely stationery, commemorative stamps, and pens on hand. I also have extra-nice cards for very large donations. (When you buy stationery from the same source, your envelopes should be the same size. This will save you time and effort.)
Enclose little gifts in your thank-you notes every other year. By the end of a year, everyone will have received their present. Ideas include:
- Herbal tea bags
- Small note pads
3. Free Downloads
Many years ago, I often had a mental block for wording my thank-yous. Now, I rotate my text every five years. I usually do a bit of tweaking for the year’s text when that time comes around.
- Most thank-yous in a year are the same for everybody. (You need to record that you sent a thank-you so that you don’t repeat the same thank-you for someone later in the year.)
- I also have different thank-yous for fund appeals, first donations, and other situations. Feel free to check out my thank-you document. Keep a copy for yourself and make changes to reflect your personality and ministry.
Every January, I choose a ministry story to insert in thank-yous.
- I print up a half-sheet with a changed-life story. This is the one I used in 2021. I also write a note on the bottom of the sheet: “Thank you! Your donations make stories like this possible.”
- Be sure to record that you enclosed the story in your note. By the end of the year, all financial partners will have received a story.
Because Mike and I work at headquarters, we like to include a report from the field.
Write thank-you notes as soon as possible and catch up before you send out your prayer letter.
What new habits will you try this year?
- I’m writing shorter and more frequent posts as I work through some of my January habits. This Bite-size blog series offers you some easy and do-able disciplines to start the new year.
- For other help for when you should send thank-you notes, see 8 Times You Must (Yes, Must) Send a Thank-You Note (Reader’s Digest).
- You might also be interested in these posts from eQuipping for eMinistry:
- Coffee and note photo by Freddy Castro on Unsplash