Participatory Donor Acknowledgement: Tell Us Your Story

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thank you notes

Veronika Mannova /

February 8, 2013; Source: Businessweek

Ask anyone, or watch the film About Schmidt; there is nothing like a personalized and handwritten thank-you note. The University of California’s Haas School of Business recently invited students, faculty, and staff to write personal notes to those who have donated to the school. The notes got specific about how a contribution directly influenced the writer’s education or work, says Tyler Wishnoff, a senior in the Haas undergraduate program who says he wrote more than 20 notes himself.

Wishnoff is a leadership level donor himself, which requires a minimum of a $250 gift. He tells Businessweek that he has access “to some perks, such as invitations to networking events,” so he may have understood the price of entry into some circles includes a “donation,” but what the heck? We still think that the concept is great.

Have any of you done something similar? We would love to hear about it. –Ruth McCambridge


  • Douglas Robinson

    Ruth, nonprofits in the NeighborWorks network frequently have events that mix donors and program participants that allow sharing of personal stories. In 2012, NeighborWorks America, along with Manna, Inc., a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. held an event celebrating 25 years of homebuyer clubs where we brought together two generations of homebuyers and contributors to Manna and to NeighborWorks America. As the homebuyers shared their stories of how excited they were to earn their American Dream, there were few dry eyes in the place.

  • Ruth McCambridge

    I LOVE this story. It has so much integrity. Think about writing it up for us!

  • Abby Ramirez

    The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults of Baltimore, Maryland thanks their donors every week for their contributions in several different ways. Every week the staff comes together and handwrites thank you cards to a total of approximately 100 to 200 donors. The thank you cards highlight a story of a young adult cancer survivor that directly benefited from the services of the Ulman Cancer Fund. Also, our CEO makes personal phone calls to larger donors on a weekly basis. We also send out thank you videos to all of our donors letting them know how their money directly impacted the life of a young adult battling cancer during the specific time period when they made their donation. We would not be able to do the work we are doing for the young adult cancer community if it were not for the generous support of our donors and we aim to make sure each of our donors knows that by sharing the stories of those young adult cancer warriors who benefited from their donations.