Writing Donor Thank You Letters

Writing donor thank you letters: Many institutions accept the monetary gift... but how do make sure they are thanked properly for their donation?

Many fundraising organizations are familiar with the popular thank you letter, generated from a software into a word processor, all very clinical and programmed except for the occassional scrawled "thank you" near the bottom. Many times, donors are lucky if they get a real signature, let alone a personalized message.

I am not saying do away with the processed form letters. For most fundraisers, if they tried to send out personalized letters to every donor, they would not have time to use the money raised because there would be no time to coordinate programs or events.

But, it is up to the fundraisers to make their donors feel very welcome for their donation. One obvious way is to actually have the letter signed in real ink by a real person, preferrably the person that has the signature block on the letter. Many people can tell if it is a computer generated signature or the 'real deal,' and the real deal is much more appreciated.

Because you are using form letters, you will want to make sure you change that letter every 4-6 months. Many organizations have donors who give many times in the year, and they will notice if they are receiving the same letter with a different amount each time they donate. By changing the letter, they might feel you are a little more involved in the thanking process and are thinking about them more often than other organizations.

Besides the too popular thank you letter, you might want to implement a calling schedule. Set reports to pull names of donors who give in a certain range. For instance, pull individuals each week that have donated $100.00 or more the previous week. You want to be prompt with the call and possibly even beat the thank you letter to their mailbox. Many times donors are amazed that you are calling them to thank them instead of asking for more money. It is a pleasant pick-me-up for the donor to know they have done something worthy of your time. If you cannot speak with them on the phone because of schedule conflicts or the donor is just busy, don't leave a message on their answering machine. Try sending them a notecard with a personal thank you written on it.

Try implementing a program where your donors will receive incentives at certain levels. In our program, donors who give any gift will receive a pin for our organization, those who cummulatively donate $1,000 or more are able to receive their name on a plaque and a specialized membership pin, and so on. We even have a brick walkway where people can purchase bricks, but to certain donors, we will offer a brick for free with their inscription preference.

There are many different opportunities to thank your donors, and how you do it is not important - just that you DO do it.

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