• Nonprofit Learning Lab

6 Thank You Milestones To Improve Donor Retention

This is a guest blog post from our sponsor, Gratavid.


I saw a quote from Pam Grow a few days ago that stopped me in my tracks and made me question everything I've learned in my fundraising career.

"I wonder if that organization I give $25 to every month and haven't received thanks since my initial gift realizes that I've now given over $500. It would be nice to get a call, or an email, or a card, or a letter...or something." Pamela Grow Basics & More Fundraising

We get so caught up attracting and thanking new donors, we often neglect the ones who have been consistently donating to our organization.

For example, imagine you donate $20 a month. Sure, it would be nice to get a thank you in the beginning, but what about after the first few months, or years? What happen when you reach $500 or $1000 in lifetime giving?

Those milestones are just as important, if not more important!

According to Double the Donation, 45% of worldwide donors are enrolled in a monthly giving program, that’s nearly half!

Studies show one of the most frequent reasons donors stop giving is because they feel ignored and unappreciated. Do not let this happen to you!

No relationship stands long without a little bit of gratitude, and this is especially true with your donors. It's the glue that holds your relationship together.

Here are six different milestones that deserve a thank you.

1. First-time donation milestone When someone donates to your organization for the first time, that is a big deal! Which means it’s also a big deal to promptly thank them (within 48 hours, to be exact). Utilize personalized video to send them a message saying thank you for your donation. It underscores that you appreciate their willingness to give to your organization and encourages them to donate again in the future.


“93% would definitely or probably give again to a charity that provided a prompt and personal thank you.” - Donor-Center Fundraising, Penelope Burk.

2. Number of Gifts This is a fun one! Thank donors for their 10th, 25th, 50th, etc donations. So sending a personalized thank you each time they hit a new milestone adds a fun twist to the more generic thank you’s and shows them how much you appreciate their continued contributions.

3. Off-schedule Gifts If a donor gives off-schedule in addition to the 12th gift; like a "13th" gift at year-end or on Giving Tuesday, etc.

4. Total Lifetime Giving A donor might only give $10 a month, but thank them once their lifetime giving hits $500, $1000, etc. These milestones are a great way to identify planned giving prospects. 88% of dollars raised comes from 12% of donors. - Bloomerang

5. Fiscal Year Giving Similar to #4, but instead of lifetime giving only count giving for your current fiscal year. For example, thank a donor once their giving since July (or any month) hits $1000. These milestones usually pair nicely with your giving society.

6. Years Given Thank donors who have given for 3, 5, etc consecutive years regardless of the dollar amount. It's essential to show your long-time donors how much you value their commitment.

“Donors pay the most attention to the thank-you communication." Professor Jen Shang, PhD Institute for Sustainable Philanthropy

Automate Milestones With Gratavid We know what you are thinking. These sound awesome, BUT, it sounds like a lot of work. And you are right. It can take a lot of time pulling reports each week and filtering out who needs to be thanked.

Luckily, Gratavid can help! If you are not familiar with Gratavid; it's a tool for collecting and sending personalized videos. For example, send a thank you video after someone makes a donation.

What makes Gratavid even cooler is its integration with all the major CRMs like Blackbaud, Blooomerang, Salesforce, DonorPerfect, and many more. You can view the full list at Gratavid integrations.

The integrations include "milestone events" which you can set up when building your rules. For example, this is what the integration configuration looks like:

The best part? You only have to set up these rules once and watch as the videos are sent automatically. Happy Thanking!

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