If you count on donors to keep your organization working towards its mission, you want a strategy that retains these donors and lets them know how thankful you are for their support. A thank-you for donation card or letter is so important after receiving a contribution. But how you craft this communication is just as important as sending it out! The right format and message will foster authentic relationships with a donor.
Personalized, heartfelt messages in real handwriting will create an authentic connection with a donor. Consider the vibe of your organization and the tone of the other written materials you have. If appropriate, you can use a familiar tone in your donor thank-you cards. Even if your writing style is more formal, you shouldn’t shy away from genuine emotion.
Personalization is key through every aspect of your thank you. Address the note specifically to the donor. You can use a first or last name as appropriate with your general tone and materials, but make sure you use a name and not a general opening like, “Dear donor.” That vague and impersonal start will go against the personal connection you want to create right from the start. On the other hand, a note in unique handwriting that addresses the particular person shows that you care about this specific relationship — not just about raking in as many donations as possible.
If you feel like you need a good base letter to start from, we’ve created some fantastic donor thank-you letter examples that you can use as a starting point.
Sending a thank you signed by a specific person instead of a generic sign-off from your organization emphasizes the importance of the donation. You don’t want your thank you note to look like a form letter, and a real signature, especially from someone high up in the organization like a director, shows that your organization takes donors seriously. A signed letter demonstrates that you’re placing a lot of importance on letting donors know you’re grateful.
Ideally, you should get your donor thank-you cards out in the mail as quickly as a day or two after you receive the donation. The effect is twofold. You let the donor know you’re aware of their gift, and you let them know it really had an effect. Your prompt response shows a donor that you monitor what’s coming into your organization and that their money didn’t get lost!
If you take longer than two weeks to thank a donor, they’ll start to feel like their gift isn’t important. You don’t want your donor to feel like they’re just one in a crowd. Make them feel special. A thoughtful note inspires positive feelings that build on how the donor felt when making the gift, but that feel-good response will be dampened if the thank you takes too long to get back to them.
Your thank-you note to donors serves as the perfect opportunity to share the good their donation allows you to do. If you explained a specific reason why you needed a donation when asking for support, you can now go into more detail about what the money really led you to do. A brief yet personal and specific note is much more memorable than a generic thank you.
Remind the donor of the work you can do with their donation by highlighting specific projects. Instead of recycling language you use in any promotional materials, connect the specific donation to specific work you’re doing right now. Use your storytelling skills here! Language such as, “Your gift makes it possible to …” helps get your point across.
It feels good to know the power of a gift. Your donor wants to see their impact. Let them know where the money went and how you spent it. Instead of overwhelming a donor with general news or information — or immediately pivoting to ask for more money — take the time to share a story. If a donor can see just how much their money meant to your organization in a tangible way, they’re more likely to stay connected.
You’re saying thank you for your donation. You’re not asking for another donation. Keep that in mind when crafting your message. Many nonprofits and charitable organizations tend to lose sight of the purpose of their note when creating materials to thank their donors. A thank you note does just that. It thanks someone and shows your gratitude.
Your thank-you is not the time to remind someone to donate again. You should simply say thank you, highlighting your genuine gratitude and showing the impact that the donation is having on the work you do. Leave out additional soliciting for new donations or even advertising upcoming events. If you think the donor would be interested in attending an event you’re having soon, you should send them a letter or invitation separately. You want to keep the message of gratitude at the forefront of your thank you note.
The more your note differs from all the regular mail your donor gets, the bigger the impact it will have on them. If you can send something more creative, it will only boost the connection you’re creating with the donor.
One way to do this is to share photos that celebrate the success of your organization, especially if it directly relates to the donor’s contribution. You can share a postcard with a photo along with the note, or use that as the format of the card itself.
You can also send your thank-you in a greeting card format instead of a regular letter. A short, warm, and friendly card will stand out from other letters.
Make sure you take the time to thank your donors after you receive a contribution. They’ll see the time and effort you put into your thank-you. The more appreciated a donor feels, the more likely they are to want to contribute again in the future. Heartfelt, personalized messages will go a long way in creating long-lasting relationships with your donors.
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