Make Your Donor the Hero, Not the Sidekick

Make Your Donor the Hero, Not the Sidekick

  • On October 17, 2017

A few of you reached out to us after our last email to ask what we meant when we said “Show your donors … what their gifts do. They want to help people. They want to change the world. Show them how their gifts make that happen.”

Do you want to know how to make your donors feel so great about supporting you that they can’t wait to do it again?

Here is the secret: They get to be the hero. And that means that you’re the sidekick.

Unfortunately, too many nonprofit organizations get that backwards. Their donor communications are full of good news about their innovative methods and incredible results. They’re the hero! 

Just think about the typical nonprofit thank-you letter.


On behalf of Gotham Organization, we’d like to acknowledge receive of your donation of AMOUNT, which we received on DATE. We’re out there every night, fighting evil in the streets, and your support will help. We recently launched a new initiative to defeat the Penguin. It takes skill and top-of-the-line gadgetry to fight evil, and we’ve got both. We are Gotham’s only hope, and we’re grateful to you for recognizing that.


What would you do differently if you were Robin and your donors were Batman?

  • You’d get your thank-you letters out right away — because you’d be honored by the trust and responsibility the hero has placed in you.
  • You’d use language that was personal and effusive.
  • You’d acknowledge all the many gifts he’s made to you, not just this most recent one.
  • You’d give him concrete examples of what his gift will accomplish, recognizing that he’s the one who deserves the credit — not you.
  • And you’d share your own personal contact information with him and hope he called you to get more involved.


Too many kids in Gotham are afraid to walk down dark alleys. But thanks to you, help is on the way.

We received your very generous gift of AMOUNT on DATE, and we can’t thank you enough. The streets of Gotham are filled with danger, but we’re fortunate that generous citizens like you are fighting back.

Your ongoing generosity has brought about the defeat of the Penguin and the Riddler, two evil men whose aim was to introduce a reign of terror in Gotham. You made that happen.

Now thanks to your continued support, we’ll be ready to face the Joker and keep our ears to the ground for new threats. You are making Gotham a safer place to live.

If you’d ever to see in person what your gifts make possible, please don’t hesitate to call me at 512-BAT-CAVE. I would love to have the opportunity to thank you face to face!

Batman, we simply couldn’t do what we do without you. We are so grateful for everything you do to make Gotham a great place to live.



A gift acknowledgment is an expected part of the donation process — a legally-obligated, pro forma exercise. But it’s also an opportunity to make your donors feel like heroes. Give them the chance to be Batman — you won’t be sorry!

P.S. If you’re looking for real-world examples of donor-centric thank-yous, check out the Showcase of Fundraising Innovation & Inspiration. Or call us! We love helping organizations find authentic and meaningful ways to make donors feel like heroes.


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