12 opportunities to thank your givers

When did you last say thank you to those who give to the ministry and mission of your parish? Saying thank you to your givers isn’t only good practice, it is good manners too! On the rare occasions we do acknowledge those giving to the church, it’s often in the most begrudging way. As soon as the gift has been acknowledged, we tell them off for not using gift aid, or start mailing them for further financial appeals. What kind of message is that sending to our donors? Often it’s read as “we’re acknowledging your donation, but it wasn’t enough.” We need to offer sincere thanks, with no tag line of “please give more.”

Here are 12 ideas of simple ways to show your appreciation to those who are choosing to invest in your church. You don’t need to do them all, but you should aim to thank all your donors at least once a year. Don’t be overwhelmed by this, it doesn’t have to come from the church leader or the treasurer every time. It doesn’t have to be a huge gesture and you don’t have to do it alone. Even the smallest act of gratitude can go a long way, and a team of people to help you do it can make it simple.
Some churches choose to use some of these methods only with their high impact gifts, but I challenge you to treat all your givers the same. It is incredibly important to acknowledge the act of giving more than the size of the gift. This is always true, but especially important when thanking our givers. 

Send an annual giving statement with a letter of gratitude. This is great for helping people see how much they’ve given and as proof for their tax returns. There are letter templates available on https://www.parishresources.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Thankyou-Letters.docx

A handwritten note is one of the most powerful ways you can say thank you to your donorsIt doesn’t have to be a long drawn out note; just a few quick sentences from you or someone on your leadership team will do. A little time and postage are a small price to pay in return for their gift to your church. 

How about getting your kids’ group to write a couple of lines of thanks for the impact they’ve made? The kids could sign around the border.

Put something on social media thanking your supporters. “Thank you to everyone who has donated this year, our food bank has fed 30 people this week because of you.” 

Send thank you emails. An email is an easy way to BCC all your regular donors with a quick update about the impact they’re making and how grateful you are.

Thanking them in person, face to face; visiting all your church volunteers and givers each year can be both a rewarding and humbling experience (and it isn’t only the vicar who can visit other people!). At first people will be shocked, and even suspicious of your motives, but then they realise you just want to thank them.

 

Tell them how their money is used, give some real facts about where the money has been spent. How many candles have been purchased, how many hours staff time have been used, how many bibles have been given out etc. Show donors more than just facts and figures, use pictures and say thank you continually. 

NewSpring church created a fantastic video that briefly breaks down how every dollar given to NewSpring is spent. I know not everyone can create something this polished, but your givers will appreciate the effort made. Putting the information together, sharing it, and letting people know that you’re grateful for their giving helps build trust and confidence. 

Get crafty! Do you have some crafty people in your church? Could you get them baking cookies, making wreaths, knitting scarves, or making cards to give as a small gift to show your givers they are appreciated? People don’t give to get something in return, they give out of faith to God, but everyone loves and appreciates a gift when they don’t expect it. 

Send a postcard! Take a photo of one of your ministries, such as café church, and turn it into a postcard with a quick note on the back thanking them for their part in it. 

The Touchnote mobile app can be used to quickly and easily turn your photos into postcards and post them out via the app without much effort from you. 

Send an anniversary card, email or letter on the 1st, 5th 10th, 15th year they have been donating. Celebrate them as a donor and their commitment to your church. 

Tell stories! These can be done as part of your service, ask people to come up and talk about what a difference the ministry or mission of the church has made to their life and how it couldn’t have been done without donations from the church. Think outside the box! How many children have gone through your parent and toddler group, children’s ministry or uniformed groups? Could you ask a parent to talk about how much the church has meant to them, even though they’ve never been on a Sunday before (this could be done on video, or read by someone else on a Sunday if necessary) 

Hopefully this list has given you some inspiration about how to thank your donors. How many are you going to try and complete?

Many of the tips above require you to hold data for your givers. For information regarding General Data Protection Regulations (2018), and the implications for local churches www.parishresources.org.uk/gdpr/  

Katie Wilson
Learning Mentor for Resourcing the Vision