Thank-a-Thon | What is it and why haven’t I held one!

Have you ever received an unexpected thank you for something you did? What a lift to the spirits!

You can provide that to your donors with an out-of-the-blue thank you call. In today’s world, we are always being asked to do more, to give more. It’s nice to simply be thanked for what we’ve already done. People will appreciate it and they will remember you.

The Thank-a-Thon is the opposite of a phone campaign. It’s an all-out drive to call everyone who has contributed to your organization and simply thank them for their support. No ask. No sales pitch. Just a sincere and honest thank you.

Set It Up

Plan your Thank-a-Thon at a slow time in your calendar, not near any fundraising events. You want this thank you call to come as a surprise, delighting your supporters. Plan one day or a series of evenings to call all your supporters.

Find volunteers who have a good phone presence and enjoy talking with people. Stamina is important, as they’ll be at it awhile. This is a great job for board members; it feels really good to just simply say thank you.

You can set up a phone bank or just have your volunteers bring their cell phones and chargers. Provide lunch and make it a party.

Divvy It Up

Make a list of who to call and include everyone:

  • Donors (large and small)
  • Past volunteers
  • Organizations that have volunteered for you before
  • Sponsors
  • Anyone you’ve wanted to reach out to but haven’t

Divide the list and hand it out to your volunteers in whatever way makes sense. You don’t have to split the list evenly. You can give the high profile calls to the more experienced volunteers. Or give more contacts to those with the most stamina. Alternatively, you could use a reverse-pyramid scheme: ask students to call your biggest donors and the president of the university to call first-time contributors. Remember, people in lower income brackets actually tend to donate a larger percentage of their income than many of their wealthier compatriots. All of these small donations add up.

Create a call sheet for each volunteer that includes information for each contact:

  • Name
  • Spouse
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • # of years donated
  • Space for notes

This is a great opportunity to update your database: correct phone numbers or email addresses, add or change spouses and, unfortunately, remove those who have passed away.

Create a Script

Provide an outline of what you want your volunteers to say. Decide if there’s a slightly different message for different groups of contacts (donors, volunteers, etc.). Make it brief, just 10 seconds or so:

  • Thank the person for their support. If they are a repeat donor, thank them for ___ years of contributions.
  • Mention what they helped you achieve (# of people served, etc.).
  • Wish them a pleasant day/evening.

Print the script for each of your volunteers with blanks to fill in (“Hello, my name is ______. I’m calling to thank you for supporting ______…”).

See The Perfect Thank You for ideas.

Follow Up

It’s okay to leave a message for a contact, just make sure to follow up with an email expressing your gratitude. Also send emails to those you couldn’t reach by phone.


When the Thank-a-Thon is over, don’t forget to thank your caller volunteers. Maybe plan a happy hour afterwards. Or set up a contest with prizes.

Thanking people turns out to be an extraordinary benefit to the caller too. Build on that spirit and provide time for your volunteers to share their stories. What was the most unusual response they received? What was the most touching response? These stories are a gift in themselves.

Share Your Ideas

Developing a culture of gratitude is magical: it makes your donors happy it makes your volunteers happy and it makes your organization happy. What is your experience with thanking your supporters? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

One Response to “Thank-a-Thon | What is it and why haven’t I held one!”

  1. John Chase

    This is so great, love the idea. Something that really stands out is the recommendation on time of year to do it.


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