You have reached your fundraising goal! What’s next? Sending out a personalized thank you letter to your donors, of course! Without their contributions, your nonprofit would not be where it is today.
In fact, your thank you letter is hopefully the beginning of a mutually beneficial, productive donor relationship. Especially if a donor is new to your organization, a well-timed and thoughtful thank you letter acts as a warm invitation to your team.
In a world of instant messaging and speedy social media stories, a handwritten note adds an extra layer of pizzazz to your communication strategy. Unlike texts and social posts, a physical letter is tangible evidence that your nonprofit goes the extra mile when it comes to gratitude.
How do you write such a thank you letter? If you’re new to writing donor thank you letters, or need to jazz up your current thank you letter template, this article will give you some effective pointers.
Here’s an overview:
- Donor thank you letter best practices
- How to send a donor thank you letter
- Donor thank you letter template
- Other donor appreciation ideas
Donor thank you letter best practices
When it comes to writing your donor thank you letter, you want to make every line count. Thoughtful communication builds strong donor relationships. Generally, the best donor thank you letters are prompt, personable, and specific.
Have you ever heard of the golden donation? This term refers to a donor’s valuable second donation. When a donor contributes a second donation, they are much more likely to stay involved with your nonprofit long-term. Between the first and second donation, there is a perfect window to send out a donor thank you letter to show your appreciation.
Aim to send out a donor thank you letter within 24-72 hours of receiving a contribution. An email may be the best gratitude strategy, so your donor receives your kind regards in time. When you schedule prompt thank you letters, donors will feel immediately appreciated.
Personal details matter when writing donor thank you letters. Use your donor’s first and last name when addressing them. Additionally, when wrapping up your donor thank you letter, sign off with your name and position. For example, “All the best, John Jones, Executive Director of Paints For Kids”.
If your donor has been faithfully giving to your organization for several years, use your thank you letter to reiterate your appreciation. Use your donor management system to look up how long the donor has been involved in your organization and thank them specifically for their ongoing support.
Lastly, use your language to highlight their importance. Whenever you can, use “you” and “we” to reinforce a team-centric tone. For instance, phrases like “your gift helped us,” “your continued support,” or “because of you” reinforce your donor’s individual importance.
Our volunteer appreciation ideas guide also explains that you can add an extra layer of personalization by signing your letter from someone at your organization. Designating a specific sender will make it much more personable and meaningful.
Generic donor thank you letters are missed opportunities to connect. Let your donors know exactly how their gift made a difference. After all, most donors give to nonprofits that have the same values as they do. Of course, by nature, specificity looks different for every nonprofit. But as a rule of thumb, here are some topics to cover:
- Amount. This could look like “your $150 gift helped us care for three local families”. When you include the donor’s gift amount, it helps them understand their contribution’s ripple effect. It also indicates that you responsibly handle your donations.
- Gift type. Monetary gifts aren’t the only giving option. In-kind, pledge gifts, recurring gifts, event attendance, sponsorship, and many more gift types are available. Whichever gift your donor has chosen, let them know their generosity is appreciated.
- Impact. How exactly did your donor’s gift help? Perhaps their in-kind food gift fed or clothed four families or their monetary gift helped your organization build three new wells. When donors understand their impact, your mission becomes both immediate and real.
- Goal reached. When beginning your fundraising journey, you most likely laid out some goals to measure your success. If you’ve reached or surpassed those goals with your donors’ help, let them know! For instance, if you set to house 300 families, and have successfully housed 450, invite your donor to celebrate your nonprofit’s success.
Now that you have some tips to guide your donor thank you letter writing process, you might be wondering how you should send the letter. Let’s explore some options below.
How to send a donor thank you letter
When considering the best means of sending your donor thank you letter, you might be tempted to stick to one communication channel. However, using a variety of communications ensures that your message will come across in both a timely and thoughtful manner.
Actually, did you know that marketing campaigns that used direct mail and one or more digital media experienced a 118% boost in response rates compared to using direct mail only? This means that implementing a variety of communication methods is the most effective way to reach your donors.
You can start by using a template for all donors and tailor it for each channel and recipient. Then, you can send the message through both email and direct mail.
Your emails should be straightforward and timely–send your donor thank you letter to all those who submitted electronic donations. For direct mail, the process takes a little bit more planning, but we’ve included a template below to help you get started.
Donor thank you letter template
Sometimes it’s easier to write with a guide. Here is a donor thank you letter template for you to reference when crafting your donor communications.
Subject: Thank you for your generous gift to [nonprofit name]
Dear [donor’s name],
We have received your kind gift of [amount] for [fundraising campaign], and wanted to express our gratitude. At [nonprofit name] we value each one of our supporters and are grateful for all contributions.
Because of you, we have achieved [accomplishment] in our current effort to [fundraising goal]. [Describe the heart of your mission and what exactly you are aiming to accomplish. The more specific you are, the better. Explain how your current fundraiser is furthering your mission. End this section with clearly outlined next steps].
You are making a very real impact for [nonprofit name] and [core audience fundraising is helping].
If you have any questions about how your gift is making a difference, please do not hesitate to contact us. You can call us using [nonprofit phone number] or find more information on our website [nonprofit URL].
Thank you,[nonprofit name and optional personal name and position]
Remember to be prompt, personable, and specific throughout your letter. Being specific about your donor’s impact on your fundraising event or project helps them put their gift into perspective. Plus, your contact information provides your donor with the next steps for future engagement.
Other donor appreciation ideas
Thank you letters aren’t the only way to show your donor appreciation. Handwritten letters pair well with lots of other donor gifts. Consider both your audience and your budget to determine which gift would make them feel the most appreciated.
Quality branded tote bags, journals, beanies, blankets, or hoodies are great donor gifts. Especially as the year gets colder, gifts that will keep your donor warm let them know that you are grateful for them. When each of these items has your logo, it also acts as advertising for your nonprofit.
Think about quality and practicality when choosing your merchandise. Useful items like pens and notepads can help your donors stay organized in their busy schedules. It’s better to choose fewer quality-made items than lots of cheaper trinkets.
Food or coffee
This is a practical choice that most donors will love. Consider fruit baskets, dessert trays, or a charcuterie board to gift your donor with. If, like most people, your donor is a sucker for caffeine, track down some quality coffee grounds. Or, if they enjoy the occasional cup of tea, find some flavorful tea varieties.
This donor gift is for the memory-makers. Many donors prefer an experience over receiving a material item. These experiences do not have to be flashy. Rather, they can reflect your donor’s interests, nonprofit goals, or location. For example, if your nonprofit is dedicated to serving a more artistic community, tickets to a local music festival or painting class are a great option.
Artwork or plants
Many donors also enjoy supporting local artists. Jewelry, paintings, ceramics, and prints are all options. Search for a landscape of their city or a fun vase to place flowers in. Full-grown plants or garden seeds make for fun donor gifts as well. Some vegetable seed packages come with a plan for recipients to eventually make their own salad or pizza toppings.
Thank you video
Show your mission in action with a thank you video! Testimonies from your beneficiaries, staff, volunteers, and management illustrate your gratitude for your donor’s contributions. These videos do not need to be long, they just need to make your donor feel appreciated and a part of a team.
Conclusion and Additional Resources
A well-written donor thank you letter will establish a strong foundation for your donor relationships. Include the impact your donor’s contribution made to your organization. Additionally, consider thanking your donor with a thoughtful gift to remind them of your genuine appreciation.
Here are some other resources to improve your donor communications:
- 15 Donor Gifts to Show Your Appreciation. Use these 15 donor gift ideas to showcase your gratitude.
- The Busy Nonprofit’s Guide to Donor Communications. Are you leveraging your donor network properly? Here is the full guide on how to upgrade your supporter communications.
- Fundraising Flyers: Examples and Tips to Make Yours Stand Out. Catch your donor’s eye with a well-designed fundraising flyer! Refer to this article for aesthetic tips and tricks.