Thank donors so they want to keep giving

Everyone (including me) has a lot to tell you about how to ask people for donations.

Not many tell how to thank those who gave.

I have a feeling the way we thank may be just as important and exacting as the way we ask, because it sets up all subsequent giving.

Here’s some help on thanking from Focus on Philanthropy: How to write thank-you letters your donors will actually read:


  • Don’t open with “thank you.”
  • Don’t bury the “thank you.”
  • Don’t ask for more money.
  • Do say how the gift will be used — specifically.
  • Do tell a story!
  • Do use bullet points, bolding and other ways to call attention to key points.
  • Do tap into the donor’s perspective.
  • Do consider adding a photo.
  • Do end with an opportunity to get more involved.

I have a couple to add:


  • Thank quickly.
  • Include a reply device and return envelope. (This piece is all about thanking but for many, it’s a prime moment for giving again. Don’t make it hard for those people by omitting gift vehicles!


Comments

6 responses to “Thank donors so they want to keep giving”

  1. I’d love to see an example thank you note that incorporates all or most of those bullet points. A bullet point story with a thank you right in the middle…sounds like a great challenge for someone.

  2. I’d love to see an example thank you note that incorporates all or most of those bullet points. A bullet point story with a thank you right in the middle…sounds like a great challenge for someone.

  3. Laurel Martin Avatar
    Laurel Martin

    I agree with Michael Lukaszewski, I would love to see an example! Over the last few years, we have changed our standard thank you letters and incorporated many of the bullet points mentioned. What I struggle with is how to balance the two points-‘Don’t ask for more money’ and ‘Include a reply device and return envelope’. Do you just put a blank note card and a self addressed, stamped envelope in with the letter? Do you make it like an ask in some way? Many of our donors prefer the mail rather than online contributions, so we certainly want to make it easy, but don’t want to over-ask! Thanks for any tips you can offer to address this!

  4. Laurel Martin Avatar
    Laurel Martin

    I agree with Michael Lukaszewski, I would love to see an example! Over the last few years, we have changed our standard thank you letters and incorporated many of the bullet points mentioned. What I struggle with is how to balance the two points-‘Don’t ask for more money’ and ‘Include a reply device and return envelope’. Do you just put a blank note card and a self addressed, stamped envelope in with the letter? Do you make it like an ask in some way? Many of our donors prefer the mail rather than online contributions, so we certainly want to make it easy, but don’t want to over-ask! Thanks for any tips you can offer to address this!

  5. Alas, I can’t show you any real-life examples, as they aren’t mine to share. But the kind of soft ask you should put in receipts goes like this: “Thanks so much for giving to save children’s lives. Would you be willing to give another gift today?”
    That’s all. All of the emotional energy should be thankfulness. It’s not so much asking as it is giving the opportunity to give. It can do very well, in some cases better than typical direct appeals.

  6. Alas, I can’t show you any real-life examples, as they aren’t mine to share. But the kind of soft ask you should put in receipts goes like this: “Thanks so much for giving to save children’s lives. Would you be willing to give another gift today?”
    That’s all. All of the emotional energy should be thankfulness. It’s not so much asking as it is giving the opportunity to give. It can do very well, in some cases better than typical direct appeals.

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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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