Thank you letters that make donors happy they gave

Too often, the thank-you messages we send to donors are just bad. Talisman Thinking Out Loud captures some of that badness and how it might feel for the donor at From a Donor Regarding Your Thank You Letters:

Every letter I receive is the same — same letter, same content, same typos, same electronic signature. It would be nice if you could vary the information or update me on something you have done with my contribution.

This is dismayingly common: Thank-you letters that haven’t been given much thought. Donors keep getting the same message over and over again. They’re not relevant. There are errors.

This is a terrible way to treat your donors.

Their gift is an act of trust, connection, and compassion — and you respond with a half-hearted gesture that transparently shows how little you value the gift.

You put a lot of thought in effort into asking for the gift. You should put at least some into thanking for the gift. At minimum, that means your message of thanks is:


  • Well written, engaging, and emotional.
  • On the same topic as what they gave to.
  • Correct — the amount is correct and their name and
  • address are error-free.
    Prompt.

Good thanking is part of a good relationship. Your donors are worth it.


Comments

6 responses to “Thank you letters that make donors happy they gave”

  1. Same content….. because we all use a ‘formula’ to ask and thank?

  2. Same content….. because we all use a ‘formula’ to ask and thank?

  3. AMEN! And may I also suggest —
    1. Paying particular attention to that opening line. The standard formulaic opener isn’t going to get anyone’s attention. In fact, it sends the message right from the beginning that you really didn’t give the donor’s letter much thought at all. Even if you did!
    2. Including an invitation to contact someone (with specific name, title, and contact info) with questions, comments, concerns, etc.

  4. AMEN! And may I also suggest —
    1. Paying particular attention to that opening line. The standard formulaic opener isn’t going to get anyone’s attention. In fact, it sends the message right from the beginning that you really didn’t give the donor’s letter much thought at all. Even if you did!
    2. Including an invitation to contact someone (with specific name, title, and contact info) with questions, comments, concerns, etc.

  5. I would say there is even more room for improvement in the way online gifts are acknowledged in our industry. With the advent of automated receipts, the online gift is often treated like a heartless transaction.

  6. I would say there is even more room for improvement in the way online gifts are acknowledged in our industry. With the advent of automated receipts, the online gift is often treated like a heartless transaction.

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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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