How to Thank Donors After the Holidays

How to Thank Donors After the Holidays

Like many churches, you probably depend on year-end giving to cover your budget and make up for periods of low giving (like the “summer slump”). Between #GivingTuesday, the increased cultural focus on generosity around the holidays, and your church’s marketing efforts, you likely saw a spike in giving during the fourth quarter last year—both from new givers and people who’ve financially supported your church for years.

When your church puts greater emphasis on giving or simply sees more of it, it’s time for an increased emphasis on thanking donors for their faithfulness too.

Here’s how to show your congregation that you value their generosity.

Send a special thank you letter

Hopefully everyone gets some kind of automated thank-you note when they give to your church. But a separate letter sent days or weeks later can be more meaningful, especially when you share what this period of increased generosity meant to your church, your staff, and your community. People who gave during the holidays should be the first to know about the impact they had and what happened as a result of their donations.

Whether you send it via direct mailing or email, these letters should be addressed to each person by name, and they should come from a specific person on your staff—ideally your senior pastor. You don’t want this to feel generic or impersonal.

Have a pastor personally call them

When people donate to charities, ministries, or their church, they’re used to receiving automated thank-you messages and occasional thank-you emails or letters (which, unfortunately, often ask for more money). They’re not used to people calling them just to say thank you. Especially not if that person is someone they’d consider especially important or busy.

It certainly takes more time to thank people this way. But having a staff member call donors to say thank you can leave a strong impression, and because it’s so unusual, it can make your gratitude feel more meaningful. While your staff probably doesn’t have the time to travel throughout your city or county making house visits to every member of your congregation, these phone calls will help you create personal connections with more people in your congregation.

Share giving highlights during the service

Your congregation may already know there was something different about giving at the end of the year. Maybe you announced that you were going to do something special with year-end giving or donations that came on a particular day. Or you created a limited-time campaign for a specific project or goal. Or maybe they just heard you encourage people to give more often than usual.

Now that you’re past the year-end giving push, this is the perfect time to talk to your congregation about what happened. What did this period of giving enable your church to accomplish? Were there tangible things you achieved, such as providing meals or shelter for the homeless, making a much-needed purchase, or funding a new project? You might want to share how much money was raised or perhaps, more importantly, how many people took a major step as stewards of God’s resources and gave to your church for the first time.

Whether people gave or not, they’ll be interested in hearing about your church’s big milestones and accomplishments. People who did give will naturally feel honored as you celebrate what they achieved together, but this is also a great opportunity to publicly thank everyone who gave.

Keep them updated

Some people gave to your church for the first time over the holidays. They probably received an automated thank you. But if they never hear from you again, it can make them feel like their gift didn’t really matter. And even though they’ve just become financially invested in your mission, the radio silence can make it feel like they didn’t become more connected to your church.

Once someone gives to your church, you should ideally have an email series that talks about the value of generosity, importance of stewardship, and the impact of their gift in various ways, followed by periodic updates about what’s going on in your church and what you’ve accomplished with their resources—even if they aren’t giving regularly! 

Every communication you send is an opportunity to show gratitude to the people who have supported you, and they’ll feel appreciated when you make an effort to keep them informed.

You’re not just saying “Thank you”

When you take the time to thank donors who have financially supported your church, you’re reinforcing your church’s values. You’re showing them that generosity is appreciated, that stewardship matters, and that you depend on their faithful giving. This is also a chance for you to increase awareness of what your church is doing and how God is using you.

However you do it, make a point of telling your congregation, “Thank you.”

Ryan Nelson

Ryan was a volunteer youth leader with Young Life for eight years. Now he teaches people about the Bible on OverviewBible.com. He lives in Bellingham, Washington with his wife and three sons.