Thu, March 22 2012

How to write a perfect donor thank-you: A template and example

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

My favorite nonprofit, A Wider Circle, set me a thank-you letter this weekend.  It started with the following quote.

“I truly appreciate everything you have given my family.  The household items aside, it’s the hope, the faith, the trust, and the reassurance that kind, caring and loving people still do exist.  I used to be the one that donated the clothes, the canned goods, and volunteered my time.  But here I was having to rely on the same from others.  It’s going to be a struggle for a while but we’re keeping our faith and staying strong.”  It was from Raeleen, mother of two, whose home was fully furnished by A Wider Circle.

This has all the hallmarks of a wonderful acknowledgement:

It’s heartfelt, it’s original, it’s emotional and it’s tangible.  And better, yet, it’s got the right messenger.

The inclusion of the words of someone helped by my donation is powerful, authentic and moving.  Not to mention relatable.  How many of us have had moments where we are reluctant to ask for help and understand the vulnerability that accepting it entails?  I not only understand the difference I made, I think I understand something of the person I helped.

I hope this inspires you, because there is no greater gift to a donor than a story of how they helped.

And if you’re stuck, here’s my template for a great thank-you.

Dear _________________   (use donor’s name, spelled correctly)

First: Don’t start with the typical “thank you for your donation!” Start with a vivid image or mini story of what the donor made possible, like the example in this post!

Second: Say thank you and give the donor credit for the impact of the donation and/or the specific program(s) supported.

Third: Express gratitude for the specific gift amount, noting the date and including any language on tax deductibility.

Fourth: Tell the donor when and how you’ll be in touch to let them know more about what their gift is accomplishing.  Include contact information – your email, phone and website – so they can stay in touch or reach out if they wish.

Closing: Thank them again and sign a real person’s name. If this is a mailed letter, include a PS with a nice added detail about a resource where they can find out more about the difference you are making because of their gift.

  • Comment: (3)   

Comments

Katya,
The thank-you letter that you described in this post pulled at my heartstrings, and I wasn’t even the one who received it!  It’s letters like these that truly inspire donors/volunteers to continue to “do good.”  While volunteers give their time and talents out of the kindness of their hearts, there is no better feeling than knowing that you’ve truly helped and made a difference in someone’s life.

Your template is a great start for organizations looking to craft a more meaningful thank-you.  Great suggestions.  Your story has inspired me.

Posted by Krista B.  on  03/22  at  04:02 PM

Thanks for including the template! It’s a great starting place for any org.

Posted by Cheryl Black  on  03/23  at  08:20 PM

Well this is an awesome example! Like the way demonstrated it and very glad to learn how to write a perfect donor thank-you….

Posted by Lucy Ferguson  on  05/29  at  08:38 AM

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