Thank You Letter for Donations – Best Practices

Posted by Dodd Caldwell · Oct 22, 2013

The Importance of a Thank You Letter for Donations

We’re gaining more and more nonprofit customers at MoonClerk. If you’re one of them (or even if you’re not), we want to start helping you learn more about getting the most out of your relationships with your donors, some of whom may come from MoonClerk. Sending a thank you letter for donations is a big part of that. We know that drafting thank you letters and emails may seem daunting, so we’re going to be offering our nonprofit customers some tips to improve their donor stewardship.

Sending a thank you letter after someone has made a gift to your nonprofit is an important part of building a relationship with that donor. But, while thank you letters are an easy and important way to cultivate donor relations, they are too often boring and impersonal. Some nonprofits might skip them altogether!

Too many acknowledgement letters are canned and boring, starting with “…on behalf of our organization, thank you for your gift.” A thank you letter for donations with a computer-generated signature, one that arrives late, one with the wrong salutation, and even one that never gets sent at all, is all too common. These situations can leaves donors wondering whether you received their gift, whether you appreciated it, or even if you care at all.

If you are just starting to streamline your donor relations, there are a few things to keep in mind when writing and sending a thank you letter for donations.

A Thank You Letter for Donations Should Be:

Prompt

Send a thank you letter out within 48 hours of receiving a gift. Too late, and the donor may feel forgotten. When they finally see your letter in the mail, they have already detached from the excitement of giving. They may even think you are asking them for money again. 24 to 48 hours after you receive their gift is an ideal time for getting a signed thank you letter out and in the mail.

Interesting

Skip the “on behalf of our organization” opening and be honest and bold. Use a conversational tone, not industry lingo.  Talk about your organization in a meaningful way. What are your clients up to? What successes have they had? Focus on one person in particular to create a real connection. Imagine a donor opening the letter after a long day of work, and smiling as they realize how much their gift meant to your organization.

Personalized

Make sure your thank you letter sends a clear message. The message should be that you took time to write a letter because you appreciate the donor, not that you sent a canned and meaningless form. Use their correct name and nickname, such as “Dear Bob,” versus “Dear Mr. Robert Robertson, III,” if they go by Bob. Reference their previous gifts and how much you value their commitment, or if they are a first time donor, warmly welcome them to your organization. And last of all, make sure your Executive Director, Development Director, or a board member signs the letter.

In the next couple week on our blog, we’ll be putting up some additional tips and tricks for writing a thank you letter for donations as well as some sample donation thank you letters for inspiration.

Image by Flickr user Steven Depolo

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