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.