Donor thank you letters are among the most overlooked, underutilized tools for donor cultivation. For this reason, we'd like to share a few best practices for thanking your donors.
#1: Thank Before You Bank
If an organization has the capacity to deposit checks quickly, it also has the capacity to send personalized thank you letters for donations without delay.
#2: Connect the Letter to the Mission
Many organizations ask clients to hand write short notes of gratitude to be enclosed with the organization’s formal thank you letter, and clients’ personal notes are often posted on donor refrigerators long after the formal thank you letter has been thrown away.
#3: Reaffirm Decision to Give
Since everyone likes to support a winner, the thank you letter should communicate the organization’s recent success and underscore how the gift will make the organization even more successful.
#4: Write to a Close, Personal Friend
The best thank you letters feel like they are written from one friend to another. In addition to tone, this also means a real signature, a handwritten note near their signature, and a real postage stamp.
#5: Change it up
Donors shouldn't receive the same thank you letter twice, especially if they only give two or three times a year. For this reason, draft a new thank you letter every month or two. This not only ensures your most loyal donors receive a "fresh" letter after each donation, but it also gives you the opportunity to share new developments and insights with those donors.
#6: Sometimes a letter alone isn’t enough
A major gift should also be acknowledged with a personal phone call from the executive director or Board chair, and if you only receive a few gifts a week every one of those donors should receive a thank you call - even if the gift is only $50.