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Do These Four Things for Donor Thank-You Letters That WOW

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Do These Four Things for Donor Thank-You Letters That WOW

Flat lay of a laptop on a wooden tabletop. A sticky note with the words "thank you" and a smiley face serve as a reminder to write those donor thank-you letters!

When stewarded well, donors will stick around and support your organization for the long term. 

Retaining existing donors is less expensive than consistently working to bring in new ones. So investing in a robust stewardship program is a great idea.

Your system of thanking and recognizing donors should be as unique as your organization. But thank-you letters are a cornerstone of any good program.

Here are four things you can do to make sure your donor thank-you letters stand out from the rest.

Keep Your Donor Thank-You Letters Fresh

It's not realistic to assume you'll write a fully-individualized letter for each donor. You’ll want to personalize them as much as possible, and you'll definitely want to write a new base letter for every fundraising campaign you run.

Get into the habit of writing your donor thank-you notes when you write your appeal materials. This will help keep the language and talking points related.

You might be a small organization that only runs one or two fundraising campaigns a year. In this case, you're likely to have a standard acknowledgement letter for donations not tied to a particular initiative. And that's great! But try to update those often, too, instead of leaving them to gather dust year after year.

Send Donor Thank-You's Quickly

There is some urgency when it comes to sending donor thank-you letters. Ideally, they'll have their acknowledgement letter soon after you've received and cashed their check. 

This is not unlike a birthday gift you might receive in the mail. You wouldn't want to cash a relative's check without thanking them for sending it – treat your donors with the same regard.

The best way to stay on top of sending thank-you letters is to systematize the process. If you can get into a daily or weekly routine – especially during dedicated fundraising campaigns – you'll be less likely to forget or leave someone out.

Personalize Your Donor Letters

Personalization is one of the most important parts of donor communication – and it starts with the donor's name in the greeting. If you don't have a CRM, you can do a simple mail merge in Microsoft Word or Google Docs

Further personalization can happen throughout the letter:

  • Do you know why they're giving? 
  • Did they make a gift in honor of a friend or loved one? 
  • Is their donation part of a peer-to-peer fundraiser by someone in their network? 
  • Did they attend an event hosted by your organization or meet a staff member recently? 

If you know the details, include them.

If this is too difficult to manage in the body of the letter, try adding a handwritten note mentioning the specifics. This adds a unique touch your reader won't accidentally skip over! 

Use Your P.S. Line… and Make an Invitation!

The P.S. line of your letter isn't just a spot for an afterthought... It's valuable real estate! Studies have shown that many readers actually flip a letter over and read the postscript before they look at anything else. 

So while this isn't a spot for important information like a personal message or donation details, it's a great place for a reminder that donors can keep up with you on social media, send photos of an event, or visit your space for a tour.

Invitations can go a long way, even if donors never take you up on it. Providing your phone number or email address and inviting someone to get in touch directly puts an even more personal spin on a standard thank-you note.

For the full version of this article and more resources for nonprofit leaders, join one of NPO Centric’s membership programs. We can’t wait to have you join us!