How NOT to thank your online givers

June 22, 2013

In my previous post (approximately a decade ago) I wrote about saying thank you to those who serve with you, and those who give to your ministry. It is a critical way to be sure that the generosity becomes contagious. 

Many churches and non-profits are or have already entered the world of online giving. If you’ve followed my blog for any period of time you know that I’m a huge proponent of taking this step. Unfortunately this is where I’ve too often seen a breakdown. 

Exhibit A: Here is the word for word response I received after a recent donation to a ministry that we as a family support. Of course the names and amounts have been left out.

“Dear Nathan Ealy,

This email is to notify you that your online transaction to _______________ was successful. Please keep this email for your records. You can login to your E-Giving page and view all of your recent transactions and their status.

Transaction Details:

Donation initiated on: 6/20/2013 9:59:00 AM

Transaction completed on: 6/20/2013

Reference #: _______

Payment Method: Credit Card

Total: $______

Your contribution is greatly appreciated. If you have any questions, please contact your organization for further assistance.

Thank you”

Now you may be saying, “They did say thank you! Right there at the end. And they said that your contribution is greatly appreciated.” I’ll give you that much, and I’m not questioning if they are actually grateful or not. However they are missing a huge opportunity. 

The first part of the response is what I want to analyze. They refer to the gift that my family has given as “your online transaction”. True it was technically a transaction that was made online. However there are so many other phrases that could have been used to let me know that the “transaction” has gone through. How about, “your generous donation”. Maybe, “your generous gift”. Or, “your thoughtful donation”. I’m fine with any of those. 

I wasn’t buying a book from Amazon, or a new Memphis Grizzlies t-shirt from Dick’s Sporting Goods(both of which I’ve done recently). This was a decision that we as a family made through prayer and planning to gift a ministry that we are passionate about. 

Not only would I suggest that the wording be changed, but I would have also added more text and pictures to show the impact of the gift. According to, an e-mail marketing service, less than 50% of those who receive e-mail newsletters from a non-profit even open the e-mail. Keep in mind however that when a giver opts to give online, they expect an e-mail confirmation and are much more likely to open the e-mail to make sure the amount is correct. Take this opportunity to show pictures of those who will benefit from the gift or tell a story of something that has recently happened in your ministry. And of course include a link to let the giver know that they can set up recurring gifts as well. 

I hate to use an example from a ministry that my family loves so much, but hopefully we all can learn together. By properly expressing gratitude and showing impact, your ministry may gain a consistent giver that will impact both your ministry and their lives.


One Response to “How NOT to thank your online givers”

  1. Nathan –
    Love this post. So true that the companies processing payments so often don’t appreciate the fundamental differences between a transaction and a donation. There is no difference between how Paypal handles a donation to my Church and how Paypal handles me buying a new t-shirt on Ebay and I think that is a fundamental flaw.

    This has been one of the driving forces behind our vision for Kindrid. Build a payment system that appreciates the uniqueness of the donation. I could send you a sample of what our confirmation looks like. Still a lot of room for improvement but it’s better than the above.

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