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The basics of writing meaningful donor thank-you’s

March 25, 2022
This image shows two young nonprofit professionals discussing how to write memorable donor thank-you's.

Your nonprofit organization’s donors power your purpose and allow you to push toward your goals. With this in mind, it’s essential to show your gratitude and remind them of their importance through donor thank-you’s.

Appreciation can come in many forms. Whether your organization opts for an email, a physical letter, a phone call, or a combination of these, thanking donors can go a long way toward building long and rewarding relationships with them.

To prime your nonprofit for writing engaging donor thank-you’s, we’ll discuss five essential qualities of a successful appreciation letter.

5 qualities of effective donor thank-you’s

When donors choose to support your organization, they’re motivated by the opportunity to help further your cause and effect positive change in the community. By acknowledging their impact, you can confirm the value of their contributions and keep them invested in your work year after year. As you prepare your donor thank-you’s, ensure that they are:

1. Prompt

When donors make a gift to your organization, have automated messages set up that acknowledge and thank them for their support. Take advantage of your fundraising software’s capabilities to generate these thank-you messages. Timely gift acknowledgements will not only show that you value your donors’ contributions, but also allow them to check that their donation has successfully gone through.

2. Personal

Your nonprofit relies on the contributions of many donors to drive success. While you may not be able to get personally acquainted with each supporter, it’s still important to make each individual feel valued for their gifts. Expedite your thank-you process with templates tailored to the specific groups of donors in your database. For instance, you can create segments based on:

  • The type of donor, such as monthly or first-time
  • Past event or volunteer participation
  • Communication preferences

Your donors have varying interests and priorities. Therefore, they deserve thank-you messages that acknowledge these differences. Being personal, warm, and authentic is essential to the longevity of your nonprofit-donor relationships. Send regular updates on your work and emphasize how their support makes it all possible.

3. Specific

Consistently and frequently communicating impact is one of the most effective ways to help donors understand the importance of their gifts. Share impact stories that highlight how their donations have made a positive difference. When crafting one of these stories, be sure to:

  • Feature a single protagonist, such as someone who benefited from donors’ contributions.
  • Follow a traditional story narrative.
  • Use data to enhance the story.

Additionally, encourage donors to witness their impact first-hand by inviting them to tour your nonprofit facility or visit a program site. If possible, arrange for them to meet some of the people you serve. This will allow them to associate specific names, faces, and stories to your organization’s work.

4. Engaging

To cultivate an even stronger emotional connection between donors and your nonprofit, include photos or videos in your donor thank-you’s. If a picture is worth a thousand words, seize this valuable opportunity to make your letters of appreciation even stronger. For instance, consider featuring your volunteers and the people you’ve helped in your thank-you’s, so supporters can better understand how their gifts have made a tangible impact on people.

5. Donor-centric

An effective donor thank-you shines the spotlight on your donors, rather than your organization. While soliciting funds is important to the success of your future projects and initiatives, an appreciation letter is all about solidifying your nonprofit’s relationship with its donors.

Your donors make your work possible, so situate them at the heart of your results. List the accomplishments they’ve made possible and point them to other ways you’ve recognized their impact, from social media shout-outs to your annual report.

Beyond donor thank-you’s

After expressing appreciation for your donors, continue engaging and updating them on your nonprofit’s activities. For instance, encourage them to sign up for your email newsletter, invite them to donor appreciation events, and offer them other ways to get involved. 

Send out feedback surveys to gauge their experiences with your organization, figure out what resonates with them, and determine where you can improve. This demonstrates your willingness to cultivate productive and long-lasting relationships with supporters.

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    Donor Engagement
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