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The Secret Life of Thank-Yous


Evan supports teachers as they create their thank-you packages. If you've had a question about your thank-yous, there’s a good chance you’ve chatted with Evan.

All those notes!

You wrote a fantastic essay and fundraised like a champ. Your project was a big hit with your students, and you helped them craft awesome thank-yous. Then you put the thank-yous in the mail, and… What happens next? Let’s take a closer look at the life of a thank-you package. Once you’ve made it great, how does it reach your donors?

From your outbox to our inbox

You post your project photos and impact letter directly to your project page, but the handcrafted thank-yous your students create reach your donors the old-fashioned way: in the mail. The business-reply label we provide you is great because it saves you both hassle and money, though it means we don’t have tracking information for your package. But never fear! We email you the very moment we receive your thank-yous, so you’ll know we’ve got them just as soon as we do.

Of freight elevators, blue bins, and fantastic volunteers

Every day, we get a huge delivery of student thank-yous from the local post office that comes up in the freight elevator (our record for a single day, from April 25th of this year, is 1,410!). Our team dives right in, distributing the packages into a wall of blue bins. Those bins get labeled with the names of members of our amazing volunteer corps who are scheduled to come in that day—and we always make sure to set aside a bin for staff. Taking a “warm-fuzzies break” to check-in these packages is a much-beloved pastime here at the office.

Of blue bins...

Tender loving care

Each set of student thank-yous gets handled individually, to make sure we treat it with as much love as you and your students did when you put it together. At one of our twelve check-in stations, a volunteer or staff member uses the barcode on your business-reply label to match your package with your project and donors. One by one, we review every single thank-you and make sure that all the info in them is safe. If necessary, we’ll make minor edits, like removing a student last name or class number, with erasers or whiteout we keep on-hand.

Finishing touches

Once every thank-you’s been reviewed, it’s time to send them all on their merry way. (If you had multiple donors, hopefully you’ve bundled your thank-yous with paperclips or similar; otherwise, we do the divvying-up.) As icing on the cake, we add a cover letter, which includes your project photos and a quick additional thank-you message from us. All enveloped up, we pass the thank-yous along to our courier, who helps them make their way back into the mail. Next stop: your donors’ mailboxes.

The cover letter in action

We can’t thank you enough for everything you do to make your thank-you package personal, engaging, and a breeze to check in. It’s easy to think of your students’ thank-yous as “just another step” in the DonorsChoose.org process, but they really do make a huge impression—on both us, and your donors. Hearing directly from students is the best way to illuminate just how meaningful your project has been to your classroom. The numbers agree: donors who receive student thank-yous increase their donations the following year by an average of $41. We can't understate the effect of an especially memorable thank-you (one of my favorites is featured in an article in our Help Center, with the tiger) and we’re as grateful for the experience of reading them as your donors are.


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