Thanking your donors is an important part of the donor relationship. When it comes to thank you notes, most people think of the individual letter that follows a donation. But, January is the perfect time to send a different kind of thank you! Send a “beginning-of-year thank you” to show your 2016 donors what the organization was able to accomplish with their help. 


Consider these ideas as you design your card:


Be Organization-Centric!

While best practices tell us that donor communications should be donor-centric, why not make one piece each year organization-centric. After all, the successes of the organization are due to donors, volunteers, staff AND program participants. Use the beginning-of-year thank you for sharing:


1. Program statistics

Show donors how many people, animals, policies, etc. benefited from your organization and what you (all) did to accomplish the organization’s mission. If December 31 is your year-end, you might not have detailed statistics ready to share. But, you don’t need specifics in a beginning-of-year thank you; just give overall numbers such as the number of people you reached or the number of items distributed. Save more specific statistics that show impact for your annual report. Right now, celebrate that your organization made a difference in 2016.


2. Organization staff and leadership accomplishments

Programs would not be successful unless your organization hired qualified people to design and implement them. So, once a year, give credit to the amazing people on your team! Donors like to know that you have a team of professionals they can have confidence in.


3. Volunteer Contributions

Do not forget to mention your volunteers and the work they do! Provide the number of hours worked if possible, or give some examples of volunteers with specific skills that made a huge difference in your organization.


4. Donor Impact

Let donors know how much was given to the organization in 2016. You might not have exact numbers, but you can generalize or use a pie chart (with percentages) to show approximations. Include the number of items donated as well. You want to say a collective “thank you” to everyone who contributed. Be careful that you do not make small donors feel like their $5 contribution was unnecessary; inspire them to see that their $5 was added to every other donation to make an overall impact. Showing donors how generous people have been to your organization helps them see they are part of something bigger. 


Keep the format simple

Unlike other communication pieces, go for an un-personalized feel, because you want to say, “We ALL did this together.” Use a postcard or mailer format. Do not personalize the message or segment your audience. Keep it simple and give a collective hug to everyone that helped make it happen.


Keep the message simple

Above all, you want the message to be “thank you” for being part of something great. You do not need complicated stories or in-depth statistics; save that for other types of communication. You do not need a letter or a lot of copy to explain. Instead, use images to recap the year. The beginning-of-year thank you is a celebration of accomplishing the organization’s mission and thanking donors for their role in making that happen.


Focus on gratitude and only gratitude

In the beginning-of-year thank you, express gratitude for what your donors helped to accomplish and invite them to continue their work in the new year. Stay away from asking for money or reminding donors of all the things you failed to accomplish. Instead, stay positive and forward-looking. Invite them to connect through social media and email. If they are excited to support you, then you will have a lot of opportunities to point out all of the work that is left to do.


Sometimes, donors need to see that they are part of a greater movement. Why not start the year off with a pat on the back, for your donors, your volunteers, AND your organization? Sometimes, we all need to hear “your efforts are making a difference.” Why not send a beginning-of-year thank you to start 2017 out on a positive note?

Interested in talking with us about planning your beginning-of-year thank you? Complete the form below and we will contact you soon! 

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