Thanking Donors the Right Way

Written by Kaylee Kellogg, Communications Intern

thank-you-515514_1280Many nonprofits, regardless of focus area, spend time fundraising. Nonprofit employees work hard to create a project and everything that goes with it – logos, blurbs and marketing materials – and when it comes down to it, money is often an important part of making these projects or events happen. They may even spend time targeting fundraising emails and writing a really great email or letter. Once we receive donations from donors, what is the next step?

Sending thank you’s, no matter the format, is an art that nonprofits often need to work on. There are many donors who simply give out of the kindness of their hearts, but don’t you believe a thank you would be appreciated? Letting people know that what they’re doing is important not only to you, but to whomever the project or event may affect, is key. Here are some tips on the best ways to say “thanks” to your donors.

Plan the Thank You Before Asking

Before even asking for donations, your nonprofit needs a solid plan. While having a basic format is usually beneficial, answering some of these questions will help move the process along much quicker.

  • What type of thank you are we going to give? (Phone calls, emails or physical letters? Will different donations types get different thank you’s? If so, who will be in charge of each type?)
  • How much information are you going to include? (i.e., Who is this event benefitting?; What sort of work or groups will this be improving?; etc.) It is also important to not be boring in your letter. Don’t dwell on unimportant information that donors will only skim – tell a story with what you’re including that will enthrall your donors.
  • Who signs the letter? Whether it is the executive director, CEO or the employee in charge of the event, knowing this will make it easy to know who to go to.

Don’t Delay

Promptness in being thanked can be key to continuing a positive donor relationship. When one knows that their gift has not only been noticed, but appreciated in a short time, will let them know that their donation is important and may create more openness to giving in the future. A good rule of thumb is to send out your thank you, no matter the format, in 48 hours.

Proofreading and Personalizingwriting-1209121_1920

No matter if it is the first thank you letter or email you are sending or the last, always proofread the letter, and in particular the donor’s name. Misspelling or grammatical errors make any professional place of work look sloppy or rushed, so always take the time. While it might seem easier to avoid personalizing each thank you, skipping this key step could be a huge misstep. A recent study showed donors feel over 70% more engaged with nonprofits that send them content specifically for them. Take the time to do it right.

Who can I reach?

Always include someone and some way to reach out to the nonprofit. Usually, the person who has decided to sign the letter is an easy choice. Attach a name, phone number, email and picture (if possible), so donors know exactly who they can call if they have any questions in the future. While receiving a call like this from a donor may not happen often, a point of contact who donors know they can reach is important.

If you have a topic or idea that you think could make a great CEDAM blog post, please contact Kaylee Kellogg at