The year is coming to a close. Fundraising campaigns are reaching their conclusion. Now there’s one big thing left to do and whether you love it or hate it, writing meaningful Thank You letters to your donors is a tough job. And an important job in the effort to keep your donors coming back for the next year and next campaign. So, knowing that your Thank You letter is your first step toward donor retention, how do you go about crafting a letter that:
- Makes sure your donors feel like they did the right thing by giving to your cause?
- Makes sure your words are memorable, keeping your donors close?
- Makes sure your donors give and give again in support of your organization?
- Makes sure your donors know you think they matter?
- Keep it Short and Sweet
Brevity is your advantage, so keep your Thank You letters 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 having ulterior motives, 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 donor has already given.
- Make it 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 Thank You letters. Open with their name and celebrate their previous partnership with you. Be sure to focus on THEIR impact in their own community. Leave out phrases like your gift with help us do X and instead use your gift will make X happen, and 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 number of someone your donor can reach to answer specific questions about their gift and where it’s going!
- Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve
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 breed 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 Thank You, 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 the 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
You already know the impact that a single 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, and forge a stronger relationship between your donors and your organization by fostering that all-inclusive involvement. Make sure they sign the letter, and encourage them to include a personal note at the bottom!
Now armed with the above, go forth and craft that killer Thank You! Be cool, be confident, and be concise. Your donors will thank you for it, year after year.