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Unlocking the Power of Gratitude: 4 Tips to Improve Your Acknowledgments

A woman holding her hands in a heart shape with a teal overlay and the text Unlocking the Power of Gratitude: 4 Tips to Improve Your Acknowledgments

Gift acknowledgments are a core tenant of Donor Relations. And while they are essential, acknowledgments typically account for a disproportionate amount of our work time. Are you ready to take your acknowledgments to the next level and free up your time? Here are four tips—and some great examples from our sample library:

1. Check your tone – be sure “you” is more prominent than “we.” An acknowledgment letter is a thank-you letter, not a press release. Use phrases like “you are making a difference” and “because of you."

This acknowledgement email from Child Fund International that tugs at our heartstrings immediately with a great picture and tone.

Screenshot of email from the ChildFund featuring two children, one is holding up the "I love you" symbol with his hands. The email is a thank you and welcome to the organization.

2. Leave the 8 ½ x 11 paper in the copier. The larger the page, the greater our urge to fill it with unnecessary words! Executive stationery provides a more personal feel and ensures our messaging is succinct. Postcards provide opportunities for eye-catching images as well as infographics.

Thank you post card from the University of Tennessee Knoxville featuring their dog mascot holding up two signs that say "thank you" and "proud to be a Vol"

Thank you post card from Notre Dame

Thank you post card from Notre Dame

3. Rethink your medium altogether. Consider a video or a product like ThankView. A video is an excellent option for thanking a group of donors or individual donors. And don’t overthink it—video messaging does not need to be highly produced—just get to the point. We love this example from Louisiana Tech, and the video below from PANCAN.

4. Be sure to include behavior-based acknowledgments. Think monthly donors, first-time donors, faculty and staff donors, and more. With these groups, and all acknowledgments in general, it’s best to create your messaging once and use it again and again. However, be sure to refresh messages as needed, be it quarterly, semi-annually, or annually. (Bonus tip: Your monthly donors do not need a monthly acknowledgment – send one at inception and one at year-end.) This anniversary postcard is a great example of acknowledging loyal donors:

Screenshot of 5 year donor anniversary postcard from HSC featuring three smiling women.

Five year donor anniversary thank you postcard

So how do you turn these tips into action? Check out our DRG Heroes Sample Library! The library is full of great examples, organized by Education, Healthcare, and Nonprofits, and we encourage you to visit them all!

Also, be sure to check out our 2023 acknowledgment swap for Education and Nonprofits for even more great ideas to thank everyone from first-time donors to loyalty donors. Our Donor Relations Sample Library contains tons of FREE resources, including more samples from acknowledgment swaps in the past. We hope these examples will help you take your acknowledgments to the next level!

We’re always looking for samples! Do you have an acknowledgment letter or other communication you’re proud of and would like to share? Please send them to us at or tell us about them in the comments below.


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