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Last updated May 12, 2016

We all talk about how important it is to thank our donors and supporters, but many small organisations lack any real systems to make sure it is done well. Saying Thank You takes more than a generalised letter and a Christmas card at the end of each year. Making your donors feel truly appreciated takes time, thought and genuine gratitude.

There are plenty of creative ways to say Thank You to your donors, but these should be done as well as, not instead of, a thank you letter. A well written thank you letter is an absolute must-have in building your donor relationships.

When writing your Thank You letters, keep in mind the following things:

1. Send it quickly
Make sure you write and send your Thank You letters as soon as you can after receiving the gift. Not only is this good manners, it lets the donor know that you have received their donation. Ideally you want to get the letter sent within 48 hours of receipt.

 2. Make it personal
Make sure every letter is addressed to the individual, not ‘Dear Friend’ or ‘Dear Supporter’. This person gave you hard-earned money; at the very least you can use their name.

3. Be Conversational
Good thank you letters don’t have to be grammatically correct. In fact, the really good ones hardly ever are. Write like you talk and keep the tone friendly but professional.

4. Relate the letter to your original ask
It doesn’t matter whether the donor gave at a special event, responded to a call in your newsletter, or was prompted by a specific campaign – by relating your thank you back to the original ask, it tells your donor that you know who they are and why they gave. They are not just another bank account.

5. Use a specific example to tell them how their money will make a difference
Donors want to know that their gifts are making a real difference in their community, so tell them how it is in very real terms. Share a personal success story and equate their donation to something specific such as ‘sending one child to camp’, ‘buying one mosquito net’, or some other tangible example from within your organisation.

6. Make it all about them
Remove your organisation as the middle-man and make the donor the hero. Make sure your letter is full of ‘you and your’, rather then ‘we and us’. You are acknowledging what the donor has done – you just happen to be facilitating the process.

7. Thank them for their support – not just their money
People make donations because they genuinely believe in what you do – acknowledge that. With or without a financial donation, support is what builds friends, allies, and connections in the community.

8. Invite them to get in touch
By making a donation, your donor has signaled in an interest in your organisation. Invite them to find out more by visiting your website or Facebook page, or making an appointment to see your work in action. Always provide contact details for a specific person they can talk to for more information.

9. Have a real person sign the letter
Seriously! And use a blue pen to show the donor that it’s for real, and not just a mail merge letter stuffed in an envelope. If appropriate, add a personal handwritten note to the bottom also.

Sending a thank you letter is such a simple way to acknowledge your donors contribution, yet so few organisations take the time. Choose to make it a priority and see how many more donors stick around.

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