In honor of Generosity Day, I want to answer a reader question about gratitude.
Kevin asks how to better thank donors.
Here is my template for a good thank-you letter.
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.
1. KNOW YOUR DONOR: Capture information on how your donors gave and what appeal they are supporting. Did they give in response to a special appeal or at an event? Were they asked to donate by one of your donor champions who was running a race to raise money for your cause? You need these details to properly thank and cultivate them.
2. ALWAYS THANK YOUR DONORS: Always. No exceptions.
3. THANK THEM EARLY: You should thank your donors within a few days of their gift.
4. THANK THEM OFTEN: Thank your donors several times, over time, and keep reporting back on the difference they have made.
5. THANK THEM ACCURATELY: Make sure you have correctly spelled the donor’s name, stated the amount and date of the donation, included appropriate language for tax deductions and carefully note if the gift was made in honor of someone else.
6. EXPRESS GRATITUDE: Say how pleased and thankful you were to get the donation.
7. FOCUS ON EMOTION: Tell a short, wonderful story or use a specific example that shows what the donor is making possible. This is important so all donors feel great – and donors new to your cause grasp what it really means. You want to tug at the heartstrings and bring your mission to life. Some fun ideas: Take photos of your work and slip one of those into a mailed card. Have a beneficiary write the thank-you email.
8. GIVE THE DONOR CREDIT: Your communications to your donors should use the word “you” a lot more than the word “we.” Give your donors credit for what you do in every piece of outreach. Be constantly on the lookout for ways to recognize your donors – in your annual report, on your website and at your events.
9. BE SPECIFIC ABOUT IMPACT: Make very clear how you will use the money and tie that impact back to the solicitation that was sent. If you sent an appeal to save puppies, talk about how many puppies you will save!
10. MAKE IT PERSONAL: In addition to addressing the donor by name, you want to sign the appeal from a real person. No “dear friend” or “dear supporter” salutations and no nameless signatories! We recommend you get creative with who “signs” your electronic and mailed letters – a board member, a volunteer, a beneficiary can add significance to your acknowledgement.
Now go celebrate Generosity Day!