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Using thank-you letters to retain your monthly donors

March 15, 2022
This donor is thanked by volunteers as he gives a donation.

Your donors are the foundation of your nonprofit organization. They donate because they believe in your purpose, but they’ll also greatly appreciate a response or acknowledgement for their contributions. 

Monthly donors, supporters who choose to give a set monetary donation to your organization every month, are especially important to show appreciation for so that they continue to provide their consistent support.

Once a donor sets up a monthly gift, a single “Your donation has been processed” message won’t demonstrate how much your organization values their support. To make your thank-you messages feel genuine, you need to personalize your donor appreciation process and monthly donor thank-you letters.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to maximize your thank-you letters to help retain and steward your monthly donors, creating a loyal base of supporters you can rely on for years to come.  

How to show appreciation for your donors 

Sending a thank-you letter is a great way to connect with monthly donors to show your gratitude for their continued support and commitment to your purpose. 

It’s best practice to thank a first-time monthly donor within 48 hours of their initial donation, but the sooner, the better. For longtime monthly donors, you should thank them after every gift and send a more in-depth, personalized thank-you message at least once a year in a letter. 

Whether your thank-you letters are sent virtually or via direct mail, it’s crucial to make them personal and send them in a timely manner. 

How to write a donor thank-you letter 

A strong thank-you letter is a golden opportunity to build a long-term relationship with monthly donors. Connect with your donors by recognizing their specific contributions rather than writing a generic statement like, “On behalf of our staff and board, we thank you for your recent donation” that could go out to anyone.

Here are some ways to incorporate specific details to make your thank-you letters more genuine: 

  • Make it personal. Address the donor by name to begin the letter with a personal touch. This shows donors that your appreciation is specifically meant for them, not all supporters as a whole. 
  • Know your donor. Check your donor management system for information about when your donor made their first donation or signed up for your monthly giving program. Did they become a monthly donor in response to a special appeal or at an event? Were they asked to donate by one of your board members? Reference that in the letter.
  • Use numbers. Include the date of their first gift or their monthly giving date. It can also be helpful to include their gift amount to acknowledge their contributions. 
  • Be specific about the impact of the recurring gift. Be clear about how you will use the money they’ve given and tie that impact back to the campaign that prompted your monthly donor to give. For instance, if your organization provides medical supplies to impoverished people, tell them how many supplies could be purchased or how many people will be helped. 
  • Express appreciation. You can express your gratitude by explaining what their gift means to you and the people you serve. If your staff or board members write the letters, have them explain why they got involved in your nonprofit and the difference it's made in their lives. 
  • Invite them to your next event. Monthly donors are likely avid supporters of your purpose and would be excited to learn about other ways to get involved. Invite them to your next donor event or showcase your volunteer offerings in your letter. 
  • Personally sign the letter. In addition to addressing the donor by name, have a member of your team personally sign the thank-you letter. We recommend having a staff member or board member sign the electronic or mailed letters. Include their title under the name and signature to emphasize that the letter is from a real person at your organization. 

Pro tip: Bonterra Donor Engagement’s Guided Fundraising solution (formerly Network for Good) allows you to manage specific donor information, giving history, and fundraising results, making it extremely easy to personalize your donor outreach. 

Donors want to know their gift is being put to good use, so remember to update monthly donors about the specific impact of their gift throughout the year. By highlighting the specific amount they gave and the program it went toward, you can demonstrate that you’re taking notice of each and every contribution. 

How to use thank-you letters to retain monthly donors 

Consider creating different segments within your monthly donors as part of your monthly donor stewardship plan. These segments may include first-time monthly donors, monthly donors in their first year of giving, and longtime monthly donors. Each group may require slightly different strategies regarding the timing and delivery of your thank-you letter. 

Here are some ways to target each type of monthly donor: 

  • First-time monthly donors: Send an initial thank-you letter as soon as possible after their initial gift. You can send an email within 24 to 48 hours or a letter within a week or two. Include more background information about your nonprofit to help welcome these donors into your support network and excite them about their contribution to your cause. 
  • Monthly donors in their first year of giving: Follow up with your monthly donors after they’ve given for half a year to show they are still making an impact with their contributions. Include volunteer opportunities donors can join or highlight new program achievements their gifts made a difference in. You can also send small branded merchandise as a gift, which will also serve as a tangible reminder of their involvement. 
  • Longtime monthly donors: Thank your longtime monthly donors at least once a year, in addition to other post-donation thank-you emails. They are likely highly involved supporters, which is why it’s so important to show your appreciation. Send your annual reports along with the thank-you letters to show donors exactly how your organization is working to further your cause. 

When evaluating how to send your thank-you letters to different monthly donor segments, take your donors’ communication preferences into account. Use information in your donor database to decide whether donors should receive thank-you letters via mail, email, or text. This way, donors can receive your letters in a format they’re more comfortable with and more likely to view.

Add thank-you letters to your donor retention strategy

Monthly donors are a dedicated segment of your nonprofit organization’s supporter base, so it’s important to show your appreciation and acknowledge their partnership and loyalty. Start by creating segments of monthly donors to thank, and plan when you will send the letters. It can be helpful to stagger letter writing, so your staff doesn’t get worn out. 

Now that you know how to create genuine, personalized monthly donor thank-you letters, you’re ready to get started on deepening the connection between your nonprofit organization and your community. 

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