When I ran the Southern Utah Alzheimer’s Association, I always made a point to send a thank you note within a few days of receiving a donation; admittedly, though, I used a form letter in my word processing program that I would adapt to each individual donor.  According to an article at fundraisingIP.com, although it was good that I personalized each letter just a bit, I still made the mistake of sending a printed letter instead of a handwritten one.

Handwritten thank you notes are the ultimate expression of appreciation. Of course, this is not always possible to do depending on the number of donors to thank, but handwritten notes show that you took the time to sit down and create something from scratch just for that donor. Donors are also more likely to keep handwritten notes than form letters, which means they may be more likely to keep you on their donation list for next year.

Here are some more tips for writing thank you letters:

Make the letter about the donor, not about your organization. Focus on how generous and thoughtful the donor is, not how great your organization is – that is, unless you’re going to tell donors how their contributions are making your organization better (see next).

Provide details about how the donor’s gift will make a difference in your organization. Donors want to hear about tangible ways their money will create meaningful change, so feel free to elaborate on this aspect of your organization.

Be genuine, but also make it a feel-good letter. If you are sincerely grateful for the donor’s contribution, this is easy to do. Start and end the letter with “thank you,” and write the letter with the goal of making the donor feel good about his or her act of generosity. If the donor is a business, agency, or corporation, consider offering an in-service or other type of benefit if appropriate.

When you take the time to really say “thank you,” everybody wins. What other tips do you have for writing thank you letters? Post a comment to this blog and share your expertise with others.

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Posted on 21 July 2009

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