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

My favorite nonprofit, A Wider Circle, sent me a thank you letter this weekend. It started with the following quotation:

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 donors than stories of how they helped.

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

Dear _________________ (use donors’ names, 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 donors 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 donors when and how you’ll be in touch to let them know more about what their gifts are accomplishing. Include contact information–your email, phone and website–so you can stay in touch or reach out.

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

This article was originally posted at Katya’s Nonprofit Marketing Blog on March 22, 2012.

See also:

Robin Hood Marketing

How to Write Fundraising Materials That Raise More Money

Relationship Fundraising

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