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Nonprofit Education

Donation Receipt Tips to Make Donors Feel Amazing

A few weeks ago, I saw an amazing post on social media from a nonprofit I’d never supported before. They had it all: a great photo, a compelling appeal, a link to the donation form. Moved, I quickly tapped over to their donation form and made a gift. I got an email right away, and I honestly couldn’t wait to open it. Maybe they’d have another awesome photo! Maybe they added a sweet thank-you note! Maybe there was a video!

Nope.

Dear Abby,” it opened. “On behalf of our organization and its Board of Directors, I would like to thank you for your generous gift of $20 made via the internet on January 13, 2020.

Ugh.

To their credit, this organization did a lot of things the right way. I got my receipt immediately. It contained all my transaction details. It had a thank you. 

But it was just so… blah.

What do your donors say when they receive their receipt? Do they get excited when they read it? Does your receipt delight the people who’ve given to your cause? Or is it just kind of… blah?

If your receipt is dry, don’t worry! There are lots of really easy ways to zhoosh up your content that will inspire donors and make them feel amazing about their gift. Here are our top 3 tips for building receipts that will wow your donors.

Include a Picture

This one small change can make a big impression on your donors! Adding the right photograph to your receipt can make donors feel great about the gift they just made to your cause. To accomplish that end, use these tips to choose a knock-your-socks-off image to include in your receipt:

  • Choose an image related to your appeal. If someone clicked on your food pantry’s appeal, include a photo of a happy family getting groceries from your facility. If you’re worried about your clients’ privacy, try staging photos with volunteers.
  • Use an image that includes a single person (or a very small group of people) making eye contact with the camera. This will help your donors connect with the people their gift will help!
  • Pick a photo that’s got a happy, uplifting tone. You want donors to feel good about the gift they just made! If you’re using a “before and after” kind of photo, visually emphasize the “after” to help donors envision what their money can accomplish.

If someone has decided to support your cause with a gift, they’ve already formed an emotional attachment to your work and the people you help. Reiterate that attachment with a positive image in your receipt! You’ll make the donor feel great, reinforce their connection to your cause, and increase the likelihood that they’ll donate again in the future.

Write a Sincere Thank You

Nothing can tank my enthusiasm for literally anything faster than a form letter. Don’t let your receipt tank your donors’ enthusiasm! Instead of using a dry, canned, pre-written form letter to thank your donors, swap it out for a sincere thank-you message. A great donor thank-you letter starts with being sincere! 

While I could inundate you with tons of statistics and pointed advice on how to write a fantastic thank-you note, I’ll just say this: when you’re writing your thank-you message, approach it like you’d approach writing a thank-you note to your grandma for the birthday gift she made you.

Would you talk mostly about yourself in your note? Probably not—I’d bet you would mention how much you appreciate her gift, how generous it was, and how much you appreciate her. Do the same thing with your receipt!

Would you ask her to give you another birthday present? No! So don’t ask your donors to make another gift in your thank-you message.

Would you re-use exactly the same thank-you messaging every year she gave you a gift? No! So update your receipts periodically so donors don’t get exactly the same message over and over again.

Your goal here is to thank your donors for being great and to make them feel like they’re an amazing and appreciated partner in your work.

Ask Them to Engage Elsewhere

You’d never ask your grandma for another gift in your thank-you note… but you might ask her if she’d come over to your house for dinner next week.

Similarly, asking your donors to engage with you in other ways can be a valuable way to keep them engaged with your nonprofit. When you write your receipt, give them opportunities to interact with you in other ways! Invite them to an upcoming event, ask them to follow you on Facebook or Twitter, or give them the chance to tour your facility or volunteer with you. Your donors have already proven that they’re invested in your work; giving them additional ways to get involved can strengthen that connection.

Another great way you can help them stay engaged is simply to let them know you’ll be in touch! It’s always important to let donors know how their money has been put to good use; try adding a simple note to your receipt to tell them you’ll send them an update soon. They’ll be more likely to open your future email if they know it’s coming! 

Bonus: Send a Survey


Want to really blow your donors away? Include a link to a short donor survey in your receipt. Since keeping donation forms short and streamlined is important, a donor survey is a great way to collect additional information on your donors after they make a gift.

Asking donors for their opinions and preferences helps you build more complete donor profiles, but it also makes them feel valued and important. Just be sure to act on the information they give you!

When building a donor survey, consider adding questions that ask:

  • How they learned about you
  • How frequently they want updates or additional appeals
  • If they’re interested in learning more about your work
  • If there was anything you could do to make their experience even better

Get creative with what you ask your donors! This is a valuable opportunity to get fantastic insights from the people who support you. Make the most of it!

Want to Learn More about Receipts?

You might like these other articles!

Anatomy of a Great Donation Receipt

Use Video Thank-Yous to Show Donors a Little Extra Love

A Donor Thank-You Letter Template (Plus Extra Tips!)

Written by:

Abby Jarvis

Nonprofit Educational Manager 

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