One day last month, I may or may not have been avoiding work and was down one of those Wikipedia rabbit holes I so often find myself.

I honestly can’t remember if I was chasing true crime stories, tracing the British monarchy or checking out the plots to books I will never read, but still want to know about (don’t ask – it’s a weird thing I do, I know).

It was during Wikipedia’s pledge drive and since, as you can see, I spend a lot of time on Wikipedia, I absentmindedly gave $20.

I then received this fantastic thank you email immediately:

Now I *know* this is an automated letter. I *know* the executive director of Wikipedia was not anxiously awaiting my $20, and I *know* I am not the only one who received this letter.

Do I care?


Let’s break down what makes this such a great thank you using our top tips.

Send a Thank You to All of Your Donors

I only gave $20, but I still got a thank you. 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

I received this immediately. 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.

Personalize Your Thank Yous

She can’t put *my* curiosity in a box. Without *me* they would be nothing. *I* gave Wikipedia shape, and purpose, and momentum. The email was also in plain text as opposed to html. The receipt and wonky legal language were after the signature. 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 a More Creative Opening

I feel so lucky to get to be the person to thank you for your $ 20.80 gift, on behalf of a world of people seeking free knowledge.” I’d say they nailed this one. 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.

As you start 2020, think about how you can revamp your thank you responses so your donors will give again and again.

Published On: January 8, 2020|Categories: Fundraising|