We all know that saying thank you is good etiquette. Timely thank yous for donor gifts are expected, as they should be. With just a little extra thought, your thank yous can make a meaningful impact and truly delight donors. And there’s no time like the new year to refine your donor thank you process. Let’s explore seven best practices for creating donor thank yous that generate warmth and a sense of teamwork.
1) Say Thank You Within a Week of Receiving a Gift
Include a simple “Thank you for your donation!” with your gift receipt, followed by a more detailed thank you letter or email. If you can, send your thank you within 24 hours of receiving the donation, but definitely within one week of receiving a gift. Whether your first detailed thank you comes in the form of a snail mail letter or an email will depend on how your donors prefer to receive communications. Either way, don’t delay sending this thank you, or you’ll risk donors feeling unappreciated.
2) Send From a Recognizable Name
You don’t want donors to miss your email because it gets mistaken for spam. Send your emails from a recognizable member of your staff, such as your executive or development director. You can set this name in the email blast templates in your donor management system so thank yous will always come from the same person. This way, donors will be able to identify the email as yours. Plus, sending from someone higher up in the organization will also make donors feel valued.
3) Make Your Subject Line Specific
Let donors know even before opening the email that you’re communicating gratitude. Including words like “thank you,” “grateful,” or “gratitude” in the subject line lets donors immediately identify the email as an expression of thanks. This will also help your thank yous stand out from the other emails you send your supporters.
4) Keep the Focus on the Donor
Keep the attention on the donors and their gifts, rather than focusing on your organization. Donors should feel they are an integral part of your team, not just a source of money. Use “you” and “your” frequently, and make sure that you always include your donor in any “we” statements.
5) Acknowledge Previous Gifts
Let regular donors know that you haven’t forgotten previous gifts. Include a brief line mentioning donations given in the past and that you value their ongoing partnership. This will make your thank you more personal and cause donors to feel like a true member of your team.
6) Share the Impact of the Gift
Thank yous should be inspirational, giving donors a feeling of accomplishment. For thank yous sent immediately after a donation is given, remind the donor what’s planned for their gift. After the project or campaign is finished, share the results of how you used the gift. Although the work is never done, taking time to celebrate the impact that the donor’s gift made is motivational and may even result in another gift. Tell an impact story or include a testimonial from a community member.
7) Say Thank You More Than Once
It’s nearly impossible to say thank you too much. Donors will especially value thank yous sent on the anniversary of a large or first gift, on meaningful holidays, after a vital year-end campaign, and along with project updates.
Thank yous are one of the most important communications your organization sends to donors. They can make donors feel a part of your team and part of the important work you’re accomplishing together. They can also inspire donors and motivate them to continue their support.
Want more ideas on how to create meaningful thank yous? Read 10 Creative Ways to Thank Donors to learn what makes a thank you effective, what to avoid in a thank you, and when to say thank you.