Memorable thank-you letters set your organization apart


If you want to properly thank a donor, take your template thank-you letter and toss it out. Instead, write a quick note from the heart that acknowledges the gift and gives your donor a reason to support your organization again.

Your goal is to make your letter (and the gift) memorable. Here are some suggestions:

The thank-you letter

It’s a given that you need to include the basic gift documentation. Once you’ve done that, look for ways to make the letter memorable:

  • Never send the same letter to a donor twice. Change the content of your thank-you letter as often as needed to avoid duplication.
  • Write a personal note at the bottom. Be sure to use the donor’s first name. Use blue (or another color of ink) to make sure the message stands out.
  • Highlight how the gift was used. “Because of your generosity, seven children will be able to attend summer camp” or “Your gift allows us to buy new sheet music for our choir.” Make sure this portion of the letter stands out. Put it in bold or use a design element to highlight it.
  • Give a gift in return. Make it something of nominal value. One school we worked with always includes a drawing made by one of their preschool students. I also know an environmental group sends a packet of seeds.

Be sure to send the thank you promptly – always within one week, and within 48 hours whenever possible. Don’t cause the donor to wonder if the donation made it to your organization. If time allows, send an email in advance of the thank-you letter, or – better yet – pick up the phone and call the donor. Personal contact is still valued among donors.

Beyond the thank-you letter

My wife, Mary, and I recently received a special thank you from an organization that is dear to us. The Omaha Jesuit Academy sent us a framed collage that featured photos of school children holding up thank-you signs. The note touched our hearts and reinforced our strong feelings for the school.

The academy could have sent the standard note and considered us properly thanked. Instead, its leaders took an extra step and made our thank you memorable.

With more than 20 years of experience, the Steier Group knows many different ways to best communicate with donors. I encourage you to contact me if you have any questions regarding the professional services of the Steier Group.

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