Donor Thank-You Calls: What Should We Say?

Image: stockimages at

Image: stockimages at

If you are new to making donor thank-you calls, or you’d like to involve your board members in making these calls (as an easy way to involve them in donor cultivation), you may wonder, “What should we say?” No matter who in your organization makes it, the donor thank-you call can start out something like this…

Hi, this is _____________(your name). I'm a _________ (volunteer, board member, or staff position) of (your organization’s name), and I'm calling to thank you for the donation you made to ________ (latest fundraising appeal, campaign, or specific project). It will really make an impact and I wanted to let you know personally how much we appreciate it.
If you’re leaving a voicemail, close with one last “thank you” and hang up. 

If your donor answered the phone, pause here and then go one of two directions, depending on your donor’s reaction:

1)  Close the call if the donor seems caught off guard, distracted, or uninterested in talking. You can say something like: Well, thank you again for your support and for taking my call tonight. Have a good evening.

2)  If the donor seems interested in talking, feel free to engage in a short conversation. Emphasis on SHORT. If the donor wants to keep talking, fine, but don’t feel like YOU need to make the conversation last a certain amount of time. Most donor thank-you calls are short and sweet! 

Sometimes a donor’s response to your initial thank-you will lead to a discussion of why they gave: Well, you’re welcome. My father suffers from multiple sclerosis so I understand the importance of your research.

If your conversation progresses, try posing open-ended questions. You can learn a great deal about your donor’s opinions of your organization, their motivations for giving, and their preferences for communication by asking questions and – of course! - listening to their answers. 

Who Should Make These Calls?

A thank-you call from a staff member is good, and certainly better than no call at all. But a call from a board member has the most impact. Donors are impressed when a volunteer leader of your organization—as opposed to a paid staff person—takes time out of her busy schedule to call and thank them personally. 

And – bonus! – from your board member’s perspective, a thank-you call is an easy, non-threatening entrée into the world of donor cultivation and stewardship. Be sure to share the thank-you call “script” with your volunteers so they feel comfortable in knowing what to say. And call away!

Special gift for you: Conquer Your Fear of Asking for Money, a step-by-step guide, is available here (click). 

What do you like to say when calling a donor to say thank you? Or, as a donor, what’s the best call you’ve received? Please share in the Comments box below.