How to Write a “Killer” Donor Thank You Letter

Donor Thank You Letter Image

The year is coming to a close. Fundraising campaigns are reaching their conclusion and now there’s one big thing left to do… Whether you love it or hate it, writing meaningful Donor Thank You Letters is an important job in the effort to keep your donors coming back for the next year and next campaign.  It’s a tough job, but quite possibly the most important one of the year.

Knowing that your donor thank you letter is your first step toward donor retention, how do you go about crafting a letter that makes sure:

Keep it short and sweet

Brevity is your advantage, so keep your donor thank you letter prompt and to the point. Donors aren’t looking for another fluffy sales pitch, as they’ve already made the choice to give to your cause. So ditch the formal jargon and unnecessary verbiage, and be concise in what you’re wanting to say.

Don’t continue to ask for action, as this can be viewed as pushy and takes up unnecessary paper space. Instead, include a pledge form and return envelope, but leave out the ask in the body of your letter and focus on the support your donors have already given.

Make your thank you letter personal

Be casual, be warm, be gracious (but not sugary). Donors want to know that you think they are important, because they are. Your organization may not be where it is today without your donors, so keep that in mind when writing your donor thank you letter. Open with their name and celebrate their partnership with you. Be sure to focus on THEIR impact in their own community.

Leave out phrases like “Your gift will help us do… ” and instead use “Your gift will make…  …happen.” Be specific about how their gift will make a measurable difference to those who benefit. And, don’t forget to include a contact name and phone number of someone your donor can reach out to for specific answers to questions about their gift and where it’s going!

Wear your heart on your sleeve

Remember, it’s okay to show your own excitement about your fundraising success, and exclamation points ARE an appropriate form of punctuation every now and then. Using lines like “I can’t begin to thank you enough for…” and “We are thrilled to have your support again…” to convey your own excitement will cultivate donor excitement and keep them coming back year after year.

Be positive, upbeat, and speak directly to the individual who will be reading the letter. Donors won’t be wooed by a lofty and distant tone, so make sure you are creative and charming (but sincere) in your writing.

Be a master of "The Tell"

Each time you draft a donor thank you letter, freshen up the content with a new anecdote. Tell a real story about who benefits from your donor’s gift or about how they benefited. This will help to reconfirm the purpose of your donor’s gift and assure them that their donation is being used to make a difference.

Or better yet, have those that benefited tell their OWN story! There’s nothing more powerful and moving for your donors than to receive direct thanks from those they directly helped.

The power of TWO thank you letters

You already know the impact that a single donor thank you letter can make. Now imagine what two can do! Donors want to feel connected to your entire organization, not just be a cog in your fundraising wheel.

Involve your board and your volunteers in the writing and storytelling process. This will help forge a stronger relationship between your donors and your organization by fostering all-inclusive involvement. Make sure the writer signs the thank you letter, and encourage them to include a personal note below.

Now armed with the above, go forth and craft that killer Donor Thank You Letter! Be cool, be confident, and be concise. Your donors will thank you for it, year after year.​

10 Strategies to Get the Most out of Your Next Online Auction

10 Strategies to get the most out of your next Online Auction Banner

With longer bidding timeframes and larger bidding audiences, Online Auctions are a great way for nonprofit organizations to raise extra funds throughout the year. Whether this is your first Online Auction or your 100th, here are 10 Strategies from our fundraising experts to help your next virtual fundraiser be your best!

1 | Research what worked and plan your changes

If you’ve held an Online Auction in the past, take a look at that past activity and reports to help inform your decisions moving forward.

2 | Find the right time frame for your Online Auction

We find that spring and fall are the most popular fundraising times of the year.

Consider the length of your fundraiser as well. Keeping an Online Auction open for too long may result in a loss of interest, but a too-short bidding timeframe cuts down on participation. We recommend a three-week bidding timeframe for new Online Auctions; two weeks or less for returning ones.

3 | Spotlight your Online Auction sponsors

Just because you’re not having a gala, that doesn’t mean you’ve lost sponsorship potential! There are plenty of ways to showcase your sponsors in an Online Auction.

4 | Cultivate clear item categories

Item categories make site navigation easier for your audience. Make sure each item is listing in at least one informative category. Consider categories names such as:

We also recommend using a numbering system that is specific to each category. For example, all items in the “Food & Drink” category would be in a sequential numbering group (i.e. the 100s).

5 | Price your items for multiple demographics

Offer a range of price points to appeal to a larger audience. Each bidder will have a different wallet size, so try to include varying starting bids so that everyone can participate. This will help cultivate bidding competition!

6 | Make your Online Auction items pop

Spice up your item listings to increase interest in, and to better sell your auction items.

7 | Promote, promote, and then promote some more

Get the early word out about your Online Auction through as many channels as possible.

Make sure your Online Auction is highly visible and easy to navigate to from wherever you are posting or advertising it.

8 | Analyze audience trends and bid activity

Keep an eye on bid activity for all of your auction items. Towards the end of your auction, if there are items without bids, consider dropping starting bids 20–30%. With an Online Auction through Auction Frogs, you can take advantage of our Fire Sale feature and automate starting bid reduction by scheduling the price drop ahead of time!

Don’t forget, highlighting and featuring items without bids will draw more attention to them. Be sure to share them on social media, too!

9 | Establish clear payment and pickup instructions

90% of all questions asked by bidders are how to pay for items they have won and where to pick those items up. Make sure to establish these instructions clearly and early on so that participants feel comfortable and confident with the item claim process before they start bidding.

10 | Review your revenue and celebrate your success

After the auction is over, review winning all of the bids, item purchases, and monetary donations.

With these 10 Strategies, a great web-based fundraising platform, and a little bit of hard work, your next Online Auction will be a great success! Take a tour of Auction Frogs to get started with your next online fundraiser today!