Creating Thank You Letters That Inspire Future Gifts- No Matter Where You Are!

Whether you are just starting out with sending thank you letters or if you are ready for more advanced tips, we have you covered.


Understand that Thank Yous Are an Important Communications Strategy

While your grandmother may have taught you that sending a thank you letter after receiving a gift is just the polite thing to do, that’s not the only reason nonprofits need to send them. Donor retention rates are horrible, and most donors are not giving as much as they could the first time. Prompt meaningful thank yous can help better ensure a second gift more so than other types of communications.

Send a Thank You to All of Your Donors

A lot of nonprofits only send thank you letters to donors who have given above a certain amount. This is the wrong approach as most donors (numbers show as high as 75%) are not giving you as much as they could the first time around. They want to see how you treat them and what you do with their money before committing to a bigger number. A first-time gift of any amount is the beginning of a relationship. Acknowledge that relationship and nurture it.

Send Thank Yous in a Timely Manner

Now that you know thank yous are an important communications tactic, start blocking out specific times to create and manage them. Your thank yous should be more important to you than a newsletter or social media updates. Ideally you want to send them within 48-72 hours after you receive the gift. Within a week is acceptable, but anything longer than that and you risk losing the momentum you had when they gave.

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20 Dos and Don'ts for Nonprofit Thank You Letters

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Personalize Your Thank Yous

A thank you letter is not a tax receipt. In fact, unless local law requires the tax language be in the actual body of the letter, put it in the footer. You don’t want stuffy legalese in the middle of your heart-felt thanks. Your thank you should look like a personal letter from one friend to another. Use their name and yours and sign it in ink. You can use form letters, but write it in a way that welcome them and praises their generosity. Handwrite a note on the letter if you can.

Use a More Creative Opening

Ditch the predictable openings like “Thank you for your gift of…” or “On behalf of our organization…” Draw in the donor immediately by placing them front and center. Something as simple as “You made my day…” is much better. You want to draw your donor in so they read the entire letter, so use an opening that allows you to launch into a story about what their donation will accomplish.

Explain How the Gift Will Be Used

Donors need to see that their gift will make an impact. Lots of thank you letters never mention what the gift will be used for. Or they list every single program the organization has. You can give the donors a sense of what is happening at your organization without having to list everything. You don’t want donors to get the sense that their gift is lost.


Have Your Clients Say Thank You

An overwhelming majority of donors say getting a thank you letter from someone who benefited from the charity work was very meaningful to them. Having your clients write a little note you can pass along will make a huge difference to your donor as it connects them to why they gave. Pictures can also have a similar effect.

Give Donors More Ways to Engage

You want to give your donors something to do next that is NOT about giving more money. Add donors to your newsletter list and let them know when they should expect it and what it will include. Invite them for tours or visits to your organization or tell them about volunteer opportunities or upcoming events. Let them know they are more than just an ATM.

Create More Visual Thank Yous

Many nonprofits are successfully using video and other visuals like infographics, to say “Thank You” in a more compelling and public way. You still need to send a letter (or email) saying thanks directly to your donors after they give, but consider something more visual for a thank you to the community as a whole. These are great for sharing on social media and posting to your website.