How to thank your donors

I have a feeling that some day, fundraisers are going to spend as much energy on thanking donors as we do now on asking them.

We’re going to build up a knowledge of what works and doesn’t work, much the way we have for asking.

Until that time, we have to rely on common sense.

Here’s some of that from the Fired-Up Fundraising blog: How to Craft a Killer Thank You Letter.


  • Don’t start out with “on behalf of.”
  • Don’t Ask for another gift.
  • Don’t use thank you letter jargon: “we are deeply grateful for your continued support.”
  • Don’t start out with Dear Friend.
  • Don’t ask anything else from your donor right now.
  • Don’t misspell their name.
  • Don’t Have errors in grammar, punctuation or misspellings.
  • Don’t go on and on. Ditch the verbosity. Do be concise.
  • Don’t keep selling.
  • Don’t re-use copy that you used in the solicitation letter to talk about your programs.
  • Don’t be formal. Or lofty.
  • Don’t be vague about how the money will be used.
  • Don’t sign it yourself if you can get a higher-ranking person to sign it.

I disagree with one of these: “Don’t keep selling.” On the contrary, you should always keep selling. Selling in your thank-you letter does two important things:


  1. It strongly reaffirms the donor’s decision to give.
  2. It gives donors an opportunity to give again at the time when they are most predisposed to do so: Donors are most likely to give when they’ve given recently, and they’re more inclined to give again when they feel good about their previous gift. Your thank you is a golden moment.

Thinking hard about thank-you letters is smart. We all should be doing it.


Comments

10 responses to “How to thank your donors”

  1. We DO spend as much time thanking donors as soliciting donations from them. Every hour and $ spent on stewardship is well worth it and comes back, sometimes ten-fold. It is not hype, it is fact.
    And we have a remit tear-off at the bottom of our thank you/acknowledgement letters. Not only do our donors NOT complain about that, many of them make an additional donation. We don’t hard sell it, but we don’t waste the opportunity either.
    So I disagree with “don’t ask for another gift” (although there is a big difference betw. a hard and soft ask); and I also disagree with “don’t keep selling.”
    NEVER stop selling…

  2. We DO spend as much time thanking donors as soliciting donations from them. Every hour and $ spent on stewardship is well worth it and comes back, sometimes ten-fold. It is not hype, it is fact.
    And we have a remit tear-off at the bottom of our thank you/acknowledgement letters. Not only do our donors NOT complain about that, many of them make an additional donation. We don’t hard sell it, but we don’t waste the opportunity either.
    So I disagree with “don’t ask for another gift” (although there is a big difference betw. a hard and soft ask); and I also disagree with “don’t keep selling.”
    NEVER stop selling…

  3. I agree! Thanking is every bit as important as asking. It’s actually where the relationship building STARTS rather than ends. I actually wrote my own post on the subject just yesterday. http://clairification.blogspot.com/2012/01/what-would-miss-manners-say-thank-you.html It must be in the air!

  4. I agree! Thanking is every bit as important as asking. It’s actually where the relationship building STARTS rather than ends. I actually wrote my own post on the subject just yesterday. http://clairification.blogspot.com/2012/01/what-would-miss-manners-say-thank-you.html It must be in the air!

  5. I think this is a great idea to post- they are just some very social and proper things to keep in mind-which you should have if you are in the charity or fundraising arenas.

  6. I think this is a great idea to post- they are just some very social and proper things to keep in mind-which you should have if you are in the charity or fundraising arenas.

  7. Okay,about not signing it yourself if you can get someone higher up to sign it…would you do that on a handwritten note? So the note would be in my handwriting and the signature would be the President or VP?

  8. Okay,about not signing it yourself if you can get someone higher up to sign it…would you do that on a handwritten note? So the note would be in my handwriting and the signature would be the President or VP?

  9. Regarding the signature… I’m not sure I agree. It would certainly depend on the situation. For instance- if you are working as a sort of account manager, and building a relationship with the donor, or contact at a company you are thanking- be careful about this. Sometimes, donors like to feel that they have a particular go-to person at their non-profit.
    If you’re not high on the ranks, then by all means have an occasional thank you from a c-level executive. Otherwise- from my experience, continue building your relationship, and offering personalized customer service.
    🙂

  10. Regarding the signature… I’m not sure I agree. It would certainly depend on the situation. For instance- if you are working as a sort of account manager, and building a relationship with the donor, or contact at a company you are thanking- be careful about this. Sometimes, donors like to feel that they have a particular go-to person at their non-profit.
    If you’re not high on the ranks, then by all means have an occasional thank you from a c-level executive. Otherwise- from my experience, continue building your relationship, and offering personalized customer service.
    🙂

Leave a Reply

What this blog is about

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.

Blog policies

Subscribe

Get new posts by email:

About the blogger

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.


Archives

Blogroll

Categories


Search the blog

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.

Recent Comments

About the blogger

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.

Blog Roll

someone’s blog