Showing gratitude for a donation is vital. It will help nurture your relationship with the donors, allow you to express gratitude, make the donor feel valued, and be a good part of donor stewardship. However, it won’t reap the desired benefits if not done well. Donation thank you letter templates and best practices can help you achieve what a thank you letter is meant to. Here are some things to include in your donation thank you letters. You can learn more about other ways of thanking to a donor here.
1. Use the Donor’s Name
Using the donor’s name adds a personal touch. Using words such as dear friend could make the donor feel underappreciated.
2. Send It Promptly
A prompt thank you allows you to extend the donor’s good feelings about making a gift and heads off any buyer’s remorse that may otherwise set in. Try to send your thank you message within 24-72 hours of receiving it.
3. Send It from A Person
Letters feel the most personal when they’re from one person, not an entire organization. You can use the name of a top-ranking individual in the organization.
4. Show the Impact
Use the thank you letter as part of your donor communication stream and a chance to tell them more about your mission and their impact. Donors want to know that the money they’ve given makes a difference, so reference how you’ll use it.
5. Be Warm and Friendly
Receiving a thank you for your donation should feel good. Keep the tone warm and friendly, not stiff and formal.
6. Use Donor-Centered Language
A thank you letter is about acknowledging your donors, not singing your praises. Keep the focus on the donor and their contributions by using “you” more than “we/us” and talking about what the donor has made possible, rather than what your organization does.
7. Avoid Empty Jargon
Nonprofits have a lot of sector-specific jargon that means a lot if you work in the field and means absolutely nothing if you don’t. Keep that jargon out of your external communications, including thank you letters to donors.
8. Reference Their History
Loyal, recurring donors are a wonderful thing. Celebrate their loyalty and commitment in your thank you letters. Show them you know, remember, and value their contributions.
9. Add Personal Touches
Make your thank you even more personal by adding hand-signed signatures and notes from relevant people.
10. Offer More Contact
Imagine a donor is so moved by your thank you that they want to learn even more about your organization. Make it easy for them to do so by including contact information for the letter-sender, along with links to your website, social media, and email for electronic letters.
11. Don’t Make a Direct Ask
A thank you letter is about appreciation for the donor, not your needs. Please don’t use it as an opportunity for another ask.
12. Include Quotes and Stories
The people you serve are the best people to speak to your nonprofit’s impact. Including quotes and stories from them can give your thank you letter more authenticity and drive emotion.
13. Add Appropriate Visuals
Use photos, videos, and infographics to show your donors the people they’ve helped, the places you’ve worked, and the changes you’ve made together
14. Keep it concise
If your thank you letter is too long or looks like one big block of text, donors will be less likely to read it.
15. Include a Tax Receipt
The IRS requires an official tax receipt for donations over $250, but it’s a good practice to issue receipts for smaller donations, as well, since many donors use them to keep track of their finances. If you need help with writing one, check out our article on how to write a donation receipt.