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The Power of an Awesome Donor Thank You Letter

Last night I reminded my stepdaughters that we need to write thank you notes this weekend for birthday presents. My six year old, Jackie, was a bit miffed. “Why do we have to write thank you notes?” She asked. When I was six, I asked my mother the same question.

“Why do I have to write a thank you note?” My six year old self whined.

“Because,” my mother answered, “a handwritten thank you note is personal, and letting someone know that you appreciate them and their gift will never go out of style.” I shared this same insight with Jackie.

What can I say? Mom, you were right!

A well-written donor thank you letter can make a world of difference to your supporters and improve their relationship with your organization. Thank you notes help create a bond of trust with your constituents. 

According to Donor-Centered Fundraising, 85% of surveyed constituents reported that they would definitely or probably support a charity again if they received a personal thank you note and 86% stated that they would definitely or probably give a larger gift.

Supporters want to know their contributions are appreciated and impactful. Answering these seven questions will help your donor thank you letters resonate with receipients and nurture future giving.

Who is the Donor?

Make sure you understand who the donor is. What is their history with your organization? Did they volunteer at some point, or give a monetary donation? The more you know, the easier it is to write a letter with the correct context. Show them that you pay attention and care about their help.

Which Campaign Did they Give to?  

Look into which campaign they gave to and how much they donated, that way, you can mention it in your thank you letter and show your gratitude for their specific present.

Related → Best of 17NTC: Advocacy

How will their Gift Make an Impact?

Give specifics about what exactly their money will pay for and relate it back to your overall mission. Transparency is key and donors want to know how they are assisting your mission and making an impact.  

Consider these two examples:

“Your donation will help us provide school supplies to low-income children in East Harlem.”

“Your donation will help us provide 30 low-income children in East Harlem with new backpacks, notebooks, and reading comprehension workbooks.”

The first example provides some transparency, but the second is measureable and, more importantly, relatable in a way that makes sense to  to your supporters. Sharing the impact of an individual donation with tangible goods or services (i.e. 30 new backpacks) is a great way to implement this best practice.

Related → 9 Ways to Grow your Supporter List Using Online Advocacy


Define your Tone

Be sincere and genuine in your note. Donors will be able to tell the difference and don’t want to be bothered with just another form letter. Include personalization and if you are typing the note, be sure to remove elements like the donor’s identification number. 

Be Timely

When you give a gift, you want to be acknowledged as soon as possible. Donor-Center Fundraising cites that 95% of surveyed donors have reported that they would be very appreciative if the organization contacted them within a day or two. We recommend sending thank you notes or emails no later than a week after they were received.

Share Photos

You know how the saying goes; a picture is worth a thousand words.  Use captivating pictures to showcase how they helped you achieve your campaign goal or furthered your organization’s mission. Donors will have a better understanding of their significance if they see examples rather than if they just read them.

Related → 5 Awesome Organizations Fight for Women's Equality

Keep It Short

Keep the notes short, but sweet. Donor contributions are important to the overall wellbeing of your organization. It is imperative that you demonstrate how much they mean to you, but you don’t overdo it. Remember to be sincere - not saccharine. Highlight their significance, express your gratitude, and tell them how they impacted your cause.

Meaningful thank you notes are just one of many things that will help you build positive, long lasting relationships with donors and other constituents.

For more information on how to rally and engage supportive individuals, take a look at our Advocacy Action Kit.

Topics: Fundraising