How you thank your donors matters

You did a great job at your fundraising. You got the gifts. Everything is great, right?

Maybe.

Now you need to thank those donors. If you don’t, you’re going to get far fewer subsequent gifts from them. And if you thank them carelessly, same thing.

Thanking donors right matters a lot.

Here are some common ways thank yous go wrong, according to Sharpe Tips, at Eight Mistakes to Avoid in Donation Thank You Letters:


  1. Be impersonal
  2. Don’t say thank you
  3. Be general rather than specific
  4. Don’t show how the donor’s gift is making a difference
  5. Be thankful for the donation, not the donor
  6. Make your thank-you letter a memo from head office
  7. Always ask for another gift
  8. Strive for banality

To which I’d like to add what I think is the most common and most damaging mistake of all for thank-you letters:


  • Wait a couple of weeks (or more) before you send your thank you

Those long-delayed thank yous really show donors you don’t care.


Comments

6 responses to “How you thank your donors matters”

  1. Mary Cahalane Avatar
    Mary Cahalane

    Well, I have to say I strenuously disagree with #7. If we can’t take the time to genuinely thank someone (not thank them as a semi-disguised attempt at another gift) then maybe we shouldn’t be asking in the first place.
    I know this is a hot topic and greatly debated, but I know as both a donor and a professional, I think it’s a mistake. And usually just plain rude.

  2. Mary Cahalane Avatar
    Mary Cahalane

    Well, I have to say I strenuously disagree with #7. If we can’t take the time to genuinely thank someone (not thank them as a semi-disguised attempt at another gift) then maybe we shouldn’t be asking in the first place.
    I know this is a hot topic and greatly debated, but I know as both a donor and a professional, I think it’s a mistake. And usually just plain rude.

  3. If you actually read the article, those are the ways to thank a donor if you don’t care!

  4. If you actually read the article, those are the ways to thank a donor if you don’t care!

  5. Mary Cahalane Avatar
    Mary Cahalane

    Oops, you’re right. Reading too quickly. But judging from my mailbox, this is an all-too common problem!

  6. Mary Cahalane Avatar
    Mary Cahalane

    Oops, you’re right. Reading too quickly. But judging from my mailbox, this is an all-too common problem!

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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