Thanking Donors: 7 Smart Ideas

There are plenty of ways to say thank you. For “The World’s Best Stewardship Ideas,” Currents collected innovative ideas from around the world for thanking and recognizing donors. Here are a few.

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Get personal. In October 2015, McMaster University in Canada asked online donors for their Twitter and Instagram handles. The university then tagged donors in a personalized thank you post, which included the donor’s yearbook photo or pictures of students benefiting from the gift.

Empower donors to share online. After making a gift online, donors to Truman State University in Missouri land on a personalized thank you page that details what their gift will support and invites them to spread the news on social media.

Bring balloons. During the University of Rhode Island Foundation’s Faculty and Staff Thank You Day, students hand-deliver thank you notes and balloons to faculty and staff donors.


Stay gracious. When University of Ottawa alumni decline to give, student callers send an email thanking them for taking the time to talk. The email includes links to the Canadian institution’s website and giving page if the donor has a change of heart.

Move swiftly. At Australian National University, student callers record and send thank you videos as soon as they get off the phone with a donor.


Share a happy ending. Donors to the Harper College (a community college in Illinois) receive a postcard with commencement photos, noting how many scholarship students graduated and that the mission of their gift has been achieved.

Use student (or future student) voices. The University of Queensland’s 2014 donor appreciation video stands out for explaining the impact of gifts, from how a donation founded the Australian university to how other gifts support athletic scholarships. The video is shot from the perspective of a future student, class of 2026.

Find more on these and other ideas for thanking donors in “The World’s Best Stewardship Ideas” from the Currents archive.


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