Skip to main content

Instead of waiting for a nonprofit to send you a solicitation letter, let’s reverse the trend and send a contribution with a note of appreciation. 

It is now officially the end of the year. There’s much to celebrate: Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice, Kwanza, New Year’s …. And it is also prime time for nonprofit fundraising! You’ve probably noticed the uptick in news about nonprofits via television, email, social media, articles such as this… Nonprofit organizations are reaching out for your financial support. They are one way in which we demonstrate our love for each other and all humankind. There’s only so much that we can do as individuals to help bring our beliefs to life. Nonprofits, including faith-based organizations, are an important form of collective action. And these organizations need our money to keep the doors open, excel, and innovate.

You can wait to be asked for a gift by a nonprofit you support, or you can take the initiative and make a gift without being asked. In fact you can give a financial gift and a word of praise. Here’s what we mean. When you see a story about a nonprofit that warms your heart, send a thank you email or old-fashioned note card. Pick up the phone and make a call. You don’t have to know who exactly you are calling or writing to. Afterall, the letters get to Santa without an exact address! But you’re not asking for a gift. You are letting people know you appreciate their work, their advocacy, or the passion of their staff and volunteers.

We as individuals, families, social groups, or businesses can do this. Foundations and corporate donors or sponsors can do it as well. If, for example, you are an older lesbian woman or gay man, you can send a note and a check to your local LGBTQ youth program with a personal note of encouragement and reflection on how things change, and how they stay the same. Share from your heart. The work of nonprofits is often overlooked and unrecognized until we “need” these organizations. Food banks weren’t top of mind until people – including children – were hungry during the pandemic. We forget the Red Cross until there is a tornado or hurricane. And we forget our after-school programs until we are reminded that they help kids stay in school, build self-esteem, establish networks, and have a safe place to turn to.

You can encourage nonprofits with your words and your money. Both are needed. Too often nonprofit staff, board members and volunteers do their work without positive feedback. People are quick to say what’s wrong, but the random words of unsolicited praise are far and few between. Say what’s good and wonderful. If you are a program officer with a foundation, consider taking a moment out to say, “job well done.” Share how you have seen the organization grow and change. Recognize their impact with unsolicited words of thanks and praise.

Copyright 2022 – Mel and Pearl Shaw of Saad&Shaw – Comprehensive Fund Development Services. Let us help you plan for 2022! Video and phone conferencing services are always available. Call us at (901) 522-8727.


  • Kai EL' Zabar says:

    Great article! I know that the lack of thanking our donors for their contribution has major consequences. At the last organization for whom I worked I learned upon coming on board that their failed effort to send thank letters out, or shoot an email acknowledging receipt of a donation had tainted many donors opinion of the organization’s leadership. So I had to do something to change that perception of the organization. I created a “Friend of
    (Organization Name) Appreciation Day in December. They were sent an invitation acknowledging their donations and celebration of their loyalty. We hosted a luncheon and gifted each of our patrons a token momentum to express our appreciation. After that we implemented the practice sending a standard ‘thank you car,’ immediately after receiving their donations. Prior to that they did not receive an acknowledgement until the end of the year tax letter that went out to them. That change in process really helped to turn things around.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.