"Be Your Donor Day." Have you heard of it?

It's not a traditional holiday and it gets little fanfare. However, this simple concept has big implications for your nonprofit.

Think of "Be Your Donor Day" as a time to measure your donors' giving experience. From testing your donation system to tracking your back office process, you want to make sure every donor's experience is a great one.

Why now?

Nonprofits will see a spike in online giving, particularly online giving, at the end of the year.

#GivingTuesday is the unofficial kickoff of the online giving season. (It's always the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.)

And estimates are that 22% of all online giving occurs on December 30 and 31 each year.

What should you do?

To prepare, one thing you want to do is make sure your online donation page is working. Make sure it's easy for your donors to give now.

You should also consider your entire giving process. Put steps in place to make your donors want to give again later.

How do you improve your donors' experience?

There are some obvious system features that will help your donors have a great online giving experience.

  • Test your online donation form
    Make sure it works. Make a small personal donation, and test the actual online giving form before you ask others to give online.
  • Be mobile-friendly
    Mobile giving is on the rise, so you want to be sure your giving page is ready. Know that, even if your website is optimized for smart phones and tablets, your donation page may not be mobile-friendly. Especially if you're using a third-party processor for online gifts.
  • Automate your first thank you
    Your online processing system likely sends an automated confirmation after a donation is made. Make sure it does. And, if you can control the content, consider personalizing it to a mission-oriented message instead of a generic "Your donation has been received."

Then there are some things you should do from the office, after receiving the gift:

  • Send a gift receipt/acknowledgement
    A gift receipt is a confirmation of the amount, the date of the gift and language about the whether the gift is tax deductible. Send this promptly, ideally within 48 hours of receiving the gift.
  • Send a thank you letter
    You want to send every donor a heartfelt thank you letter. It can be typed, or it can be handwritten. Whatever the format, it should make your donors feel as special as they are.

NOTE: A gift receipt is not a thank you (and vice versa) although many nonprofits include tax language in their thank you letter.

After you've sent your thank you, there are still things you can do that will really wow your donors.

  • For new donors, send a welcome kit
    Along with your thank you letter, consider sending something like your most recent donor-centered newsletter, a short story about a program beneficiary, or a picture that illustrates your work.
  • For as many donors as possible, make a thank you call
    This is a great way to involve your board members. Call your donors, just to say "thank you." You can do this any time, and you can't do it too often.
  • Offer a donor-only exclusive opportunity
    A great way to thank your donors is to offer an experience that they can only get as a donor. For instance, if you're a theatre company, maybe it's a meet-and-greet with the performers.

What else can you do?

If you're able, consider making an online gift to another nonprofit and "test" their process.

When you do, consider your own donor experience. How easy was it to make a gift? How prompt was the thank you? Was it personal? How did it make you feel?

And after you make your gift, consider what the recipient organization does to make you feel special. What do they do (if anything) to make you want to give again?


There's a saying that the best writers are always good readers. Similarly, the best fundraisers are also good donors.

The best fundraisers understand there's a joy that comes from giving. And because they know how it feels to be a donor, they want to do all they can to ensure that others to experience the same joy and satisfaction.

Do all you can to make sure your donors have a positive giving experience, and you'll be on your way to your next gift.


Remember, there's more to grant writing than just "writing." Also remember, there's more to fundraising than just grants.

Take the time to "Be Your Donor" and go through the giving process. See what works (and what doesn't), and make adjustments. That way, you'll improve the experience for everyone who gives to your organization.

Want more tips about ways to improve your donors' giving experience?

Search online for the "Be Your Donor Day Checklist"

Check out these 8 Best Practices for Online Donation Pages

Experts suggest you can Use The "Be Your Donor" Concept All Year Long.

Third Sector Consulting helps nonprofits find more funders, win more grants, and raise more money.

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