Thanking someone for something displays signs of good manners and also indicates that you value that person's actions and you are thankful to them. A letter of.
Writing sincere thank-you letters is the first step to great donor retention. But getting started can be tough!
That’s we put together this donor thank-you letter template. We’ll show you a thank-you letter we wrote for our (fictional!) nonprofit. Then we’ll break down the structure and tell you why it works.
For this exercise, I’m pretending I’ve made a donation to a local community garden that donates its produce to local families.
When Catherine left the Green House’s produce stand yesterday, her arms were full of bags containing fresh food she otherwise couldn’t afford. Thanks to donors like you, Catherine and her family will have fresh, healthy food this week… and for weeks to come. Your support is helping fill bellies and build health in our community!
In the upcoming weeks, your gift will pay for gardening supplies, plant food, and water that we use to grow food for families in Lakeland. You’re making this service possible!
If you want to see your support at work, come visit us! We’re at the Lakeland Curbside Market Saturdays between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., or you can stop by our greenhouses. We’d love to give you a tour and show you how you’re helping. We’ll also be sure to send you an update about how we’ve used your gift and how it’s making life easier for local families.
Thank you for working with us. Families like Catherine’s have access to healthy food because of your generosity. You’ve given her the gift of food security — and that’s priceless!
Thank you again,
There are a few important best practices that are reflected in this thank-you letter. Here’s a quick breakdown!
1. This thank-you letter focuses on the donor
A great thank-you letter is a thank you letter — it’s not a platform or a soapbox or an appeal. You wouldn’t write a thank-you note to your great-aunt Millie and talk about how fantastic you are… so don’t write a thank-you letter to a donor and talk about yourself. You also wouldn’t ask great-aunt Millie for a second birthday gift; don’t make an appeal in your donor thank-you letter, either. Focus on thanking your donor, telling them they made a difference, and making them feel like a hero for helping. That’s it.
2. This thank-you letter uses a story
Donors are people who are motivated by helping other people. If you tell a donor how they made a difference in the world, they’ll probably think “Eh, that’s nice” and move on. Tell a donor that they made a difference to a person with a name and a face, and they’re hooked. When you can, share stories in your thank-yous. Your donors want to know they’re changing peoples’ lives. Give your donors what they want!
3. This thank-you letter uses a picture
If this was a real thank-you letter sent to a real donor, I’d have a real photo of Catherine at the farmer’s market instead of a picture I pulled from Flickr (NOTE: their creative commons options are a great place for nonprofits to find good images). Your photo should somehow relate to the content of your email. It makes the email more interesting visually and helps donors imagine the people they’re helping.
4. This thank-you letter gives donors a way to connect
Good fundraisers raise money. The best fundraisers build relationships with their donors.
A donation is an indicator that someone believes in your work and wants to help. Keep them involved! Since you’re not going to keep them involved by asking for another donation (Right? RIGHT??), you’ll want to give them other ways to connect.
You don’t have to offer facility tours or visits like I did in this letter. You can tell them about volunteer opportunities, ask them to like you on Facebook, or ask them to share stories with friends. The possibilities are endless! Just find a way for donors to connect with the work you’re doing in the community. They’ve shown you that they care about your mission; let them help you!
5. This thank-you letter leaves the door open for more communication
Donors want to know their support makes a difference. Tell your donors you’ll send them an update about how you used their gift… and then follow up!
Here’s a quick template that will help you put together a fantastic donor thank-you letter.
In the greeting:
Always include a personal greeting. You decide how formal it is; you can say “Mrs. Jarvis” or just call the donor by their first name. But make it personal! Nothing makes a thank-you seem insincere like addressing it to “Valued Donor,” “Sir or Madam,” or anything else that’s stiff or awkward.
In the first paragraph:
Tell your donor a story. Show them who they helped. If you can include a picture, that’s fantastic; if you can’t, paint a picture with your words! Thank your donor and tell them how they’re helping the person or people in your story. Starting your letter with a story draws the donor in and helps them understand the real-life impact their gift makes.
In the second paragraph:
Share specific details about a donor’s gift will impact the work you’re doing. This is easiest if a donor gave to a specific campaign or restricted fund. If they gave to an annual campaign, you can be a little more broad in your description. But remember, donors are people who want to help other people. Telling them specifically how their money will help people will reassure them they made a wise decision when they gave.
In the third paragraph:
Give your donors an opportunity to connect with you. When they made the decision to donate, they indicated a desire to engage in your work. Keep that engagement alive! It’s important to remember that this is a thank-you letter — don’t ask them to engage by making another donation. Invite them to volunteer, visit, or interact on social media instead.
In the closing:
Thank them again! Reiterate the impact they made. Set the stage for a future relationship. And then make sure you follow up in the upcoming weeks.
Writing a donor thank-you letter doesn’t have to be hard. We hope this example, breakdown, and template help you write a donor thank-you letter that inspires and delights your donors.
If you want to keep learning about how this kind of communication impacts your donors, check out our recent article on how to make the most of your donation receipt.
Note: Farmer’s Market photo courtesy of Chris Schrier
How can you automate donor thank you letters without them feeling impersonal? Here are 7 best practices and examples to follow.
It’s not just about good etiquette—it will make you better at fundraising.
While your friends might not notice your elbows on the table, you donors will certainly notice if you don’t say thank you. Thanking your donors is a key first step in building a lasting relationship. And since retaining and motivating existing donors costs lessthan acquiring new donors, it’s critical to plan exactly how you’ll give thanks before launching your next fundraising campaign.
To make it easy for you, we’re sharing the must-have elements of a donation thank-you and how you can make your donation thank-you letter great. We’ve even included a thank-you letter template that you can download and customize for your nonprofit.
Generally, the very first message a donor receives after making a contribution online is automated. While the generic “Thank You!” is okay (and better than nothing at all), you don’t want to miss this opportunity to connect with your donor.
Rather than sticking with the automated settings, use this touchpoint to share a more personal message. You can also use the automated message to let your donor know what to expect next. For example:
Thank you for your generous contribution! Your donation will help make it possible for new students to join the Kids Now Mentorship Program. Look for a donation receipt in your inbox along with more information about how your donation is making a difference.
With Gratitude, The Kids Now Team
You’ll also want to send a longer thank-you letter to your donors. Sending this letter to offline donors is an absolute must and also a great follow-up to your custom online donation message. You can send your thank-you letter via snail mail (if you have your donor’s mailing address) or as an email (or email attachment).
So you know: this thank-you letter isn’t meant as a donation receipt for tax purposes! It’s a nice gesture to make your donors feel good.
Your thank-you letter should be donor-focused. This is your chance to make them feel special and appreciated: express your gratitude and emphasize their impact.
Below is an example of a thank-you letter for an online fundraising campaign. You can see how the elements of a good letter come together: the donor’s first name, a genuine expression of gratitude, their donation amount, and a short story about how their contribution makes a difference.
There are also some special touches that make this thank-you letter great: the word you/your is included 9 times and it tells a short story that illustrates the donor’s impact. The person writing the letter added their signature and a personal note to the donor (which can also be done with a digital scan if you plan to send online). Plus, there’s a P.S. that lets the donor know about an upcoming event.
You can use this example for inspiration or simply download the thank-you letter template and customize it with your own information.
There’s nothing quite like getting a handwritten card in the mail. If you really want to make your donors feel special, send them a notecard and short, personal message! While you might not be able to send cards to each individual donor, it’s worth having some cards around the office to send out when you receive larger donations. A storebought thank-you card will do just fine; you can also make your own online and have them printed with your organization’s logo for a relatively affordable price.
Your donors will love to see firsthand how their contributions make a difference. It doesn’t have to be a huge production, and you can share the video in an email or type the link in your thank-you letter—P.S. There’s a special video just for you at yourwebaddress.com/video.
One of our very favorite examples is the thank-you video message from Girls Inc. below:
Their message is personal, heartwarming, and simple. In less than 40 seconds, they bring their cause to life and really show donors how they are making a difference.
If this video gives you all the feels and you’re inspired to make your own, all you really need is a tripod, cell phone + mount, and someone to edit your footage (check out our post on making a better video for your nonprofit to get started).
With so many ways to share your gratitude, the only real mistake you can make is not saying thank you at all. Using the resources we’ve shared, you can plan ahead and have your thank-yous ready to go when donations start rolling in. This small but mighty gesture will help you build stronger relationships with your donors from the beginning—and improve donor retention in the long-run.
Do you have any favorite thank-you examples? We’d love to hear your favorite ways to give and receive donation thanks!
Don't forget to share this post!
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Are Donation Thank You Letters Really Necessary?
Yes! In fact, the savviest fundraisers have learned that it’s imperative to send thank you letters to their donors.
After all, it is the polite thing to do.
And, many donors will become offended—to the point of denying future donation requests—should they fail to receive one.
So, forgetting this simple step could contribute over time to the shrinkage of repeat donor funding.
Okay, so much for the "why". How do I write a good donation thank you letter?
I’m so glad you asked!
When writing donation thank you letters, or “acknowledgment letters” as they are sometimes called, keep these five basic elements in mind:
Below, you'll find sample donation thank you letters to get your creative juices flowing:
We are writing to express our deepest thanks for your recent donation to (Name of Organization). Generous gifts from donors like you provide the financial and and moral support needed to continue our mission.
With your faithful financial contributions over the years, you’ve demonstrated your deep commitment to our work of (work your organization does--feeding the hungry, providing shelter for the homeless, etc.)
Your support has repeatedly played a key role in our success in (a recent accomplishment of your organization--reducing illiteracy in third world nations, reducing crime in inner cities, etc.)
There is no way to fully express our gratitude for your loyalty. We at (Name of Organization) are continually inspired by the the dedication and generosity of donors like yourself who answer the call to give again and again.
It is our hope that this small gift of (name of gift--personalized mailing labels, lapel pin, etc.) will help to communicate our very big thanks for your generosity. We look forward to a continuing partnership with you.
Thank you for your kind donation. Your caring support of the Children With AIDS Foundation will make a great difference in the lives of thousands of sick children.
Your gift is already being used in Uganda to pay for the life-saving antibiotics that help prevent infections that throw HIV positive children into full-blown AIDS. Just $30 provides a full month’s worth of medical treatment for an HIV positive child.
There's no doubt that the need is huge. There are an estimated 100,000 children who are HIV positive in Uganda alone.
However, the support of donors like you is helping us to make it possible for children living with HIV to lead happier and fruitful lives.
Thank you again for your compassionate support. We hope that you will continue to partner with us in our commitment to prevent the spread of AIDS and HIV in Africa.
With warm regards,
If you're interested in other notes you can use in your workplace, please see our business thank you notes or our business note phrases pages.
Return from Donation Thank You Letter to Thank You Note Examples Home
Gratitude, of course! Writing an effective and heartfelt letter of thanks for donations lets donors know that you value them. And hopefully, this.
One of the most important communications of any charity fundraising or donations campaign is the Donation Thank You Letter. Raising money is all about relationships and keeping those relationships healthy is vital to future fundraising success. There is no better way to do that than to show sincere appreciation to each of your donors through a personalized thank you.
A donation thank you letter can also double as the official donation receipt that the donor will need if they are going to claim their donation as a tax deduction (see the IRS guidelines). Continue reading below for tips on writing thank you notes, information about donation receipts and links to other resources.
For: Word 2007 or later & Office 365
Word 2003 (.doc)OpenOffice (.odt)Google Docs
Author: Brent Weight and Jon Wittwer
License: Limited Use
Select this template to you help you get started with a personalized thank you letter for a donation received. You can also use it to help with sponsorship thank you letters. Use the optional donation receipt section if you have not already provided the donor with an official receipt or written acknowledgement.
Sending a donor a thank you letter doesn't need to be time consuming. Simply start with our free donation thank you letter template, personalize it, print it, sign it, and then send it. Follows these tips:
The IRS has specific guidelines when it comes to charities, nonprofit organizations and fundraising. There are also rules that donors must follow before taking deductions on their federal tax returns. See the IRS Publication 1771 listed in the resource section below for more details. It is actually a well-written document that does a good job of explaining the requirements in a way that is both comprehensive and easy to understand.
The following is a sample thank you letter for a cash donation that doubles as the donation receipt.
123 Anywhere Street
Somewhereville, Best State 88889
Mr. Ryan Francom
456 Somewhere Road
Best Town, Best State 88888
Dear Mr. Francom,
On behalf of XYZ Charity, I would like to thank you for your contribution of $500 to our Summer Camp program.
For over 30 years XYZ Charity has been helping children ages 8 to 17 attend summer camps where they not only have the best week of the summer, but develop skills and friendships that will last them a life time.
Because of your generous donation, we will be able to send an additional 4 kids to camp this coming summer. With your assistance we have now committed to sending 390 kids to camp and will continue working hard to reach our goal of 500 kids this year.
Again, we thank you for your generosity and look forward to working with you again next year.
No goods or services were provided in exchange for your contribution.
The example below is an example of a letter a person might write to request a copy of their donation receipt.
Mr. Ryan Francom
456 Somewhere Road
Best Town, Best State 88888
123 Anywhere Street
Somewhereville, Best State 88889
Dear Mr. Stevenson,
I am writing to request a copy of a donation receipt for tax purposes. Can you please send us a copy of our donation receipt for the 2009 calendar year? We made two donations totaling $500 dollars. We look forward to your prompt reply.
Disclaimer: The content on this page is intended for educational use and not to be construed as legal or professional advice. Consult a legal or tax professional for questions regarding tax deductions and IRS requirements.
If your organization receives funding of any type, following up with a thank you letter is a must. Strengthening relationships with donors by sending out a.