Step 6 – Thanking and engaging your donors

After winning a premiership, hitting a personal best or receiving a first cap for Australia every athlete I have ever heard speak to the media afterwards has thanked those who helped get them there or supported in some way. This rings true in fundraising and is one of the most important and unfortunately overlooked parts of a good campaign.

It is commonly known in the fundraising sector that simply saying “Thank you” to a donor will increase their chance of giving again by 50% and usually by a larger amount.

As our last instalment of our EOFY sports fundraising guide for 2017 we wanted to share some ideas to make your donors feel loved and continue to believe in sport as a great Australian cause.


It can be very rewarding to take the time out to understand your donor’s interests, capacity and reason for giving to your project. This may grow organically as your relationship unfolds however researching your donors overtime will lead to a stronger connection and fulfillment of their needs. You can begin the journey using surveys, focus groups, interpersonal connections and simply starting conversations in your communications, asking and listening.


You can recognise and thank your donors in a variety of ways for their unconditional gifts to your project and you should determine what level of thanks you deem sufficient based on the donor, the amount and frequency. See below for some examples of thanking donors at varied levels.

Ways to thank donors: personal email, inclusion in newsletter/annual report, phone call, hand written note, social media, face to face, invitation to show how their gift has helped, personal video

Find the best person to thank donors: Volunteer, organisation staff member, committee member, Board member, CEO, club president, athlete, star player

Type of Donor: First time giver, 2nd gift, 3rd gift, Major gift, $1-100, $100-1000, $1k-10k, $10k+

For example, you may decide that your club president will send a personal email to all first time donors to your project in 2017 in the $1-100 bracket thanking them for their gift and perhaps one of your star athletes may invite your large donors out to the facility they helped build and share the outcomes of their gift to personally thank them.

Remember that everyone has different interests and the more you understand your donors the better you can service them.


If someone has taken the time to donate their money to your cause in most cases they care deeply about your organisation or your project and want to see you succeed. Engaging your donors in your cause and building long term relationships will see your donor base grow and donation amounts increase to allow you to pursue greater ambitions and continue your projects year on year. Attracting donors has its challenges but retaining donors each year is just as important if not more so to your fundraising success.


Thank You Tips

  • When thanking your donors keep it personal, human, warm and emotive
  • Keep communication with your donors open ended by asking questions, leaving your contact details for donors to provide feedback and invite them to be a part of the journey
  • Where possible include images and video to capture the impact of their gift
  • Be aware not to recycle the same auto generated thank you messages each year
  • Use any occasion to thank or get to know your donors such as a welcome call on their first gift, a birthday card from your organisation each year, certain project milestones or when you hit your target
  • Be sure to include how their gift has made a difference in your letter / call for example:

‘You’ve made your gift just one month ago and already you’ve (insert the impact or project outcome)…your ($ amount here) did this… (more detail)’

  • Don’t ask for another donation in your thank you, remember the 5-1 rule (up to 5 points of contact- sharing updates, impacts, story etc to every ask)
  • Utilise digital: Facebook live gives you the power to broadcast to your donors in real time while you are working on your cause or opening a new facility… the possibilities are endless
  • Want to share the load? Hold a thank you day where your whole club gets together and calls donors for a few hours to thank them for their support

ASF Portal

Managing your donors has never been easier at the Sports Foundation. Simply login to your online portal and click on the reports tab to manage your donors. As always, your Sports Partnership Manager (SPM) is here to help just get in touch.


Chris Bond OAM, Sports Partnership Manager

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