The donor acknowledgement or thank you letter is one of your organization’s most important communication pieces. This is only one piece of the overall donor cultivation process, but a well-crafted thank you letter is an important step to creating lifelong, loyal donors.
Acknowledgement can also be a legal requirement. Nonprofits are required by the Internal Revenue Service to formally acknowledge single financial donations of $250 or more and must also confirm whether or not any goods or services were received by the organization in exchange for the donation.
It is a best practice to receipt and acknowledge all donations to your organization, regardless of the amount. Certainly, a great letter can continue to tell your organization’s story, set your organization apart and is an important step towards getting the next gift to support your mission.
Below are four thank-you letter best practices to ensure your nonprofit makes the most of this important communications opportunity:
1. Send a thank you letter. For every gift. Every time. Regardless of the amount.
Also, if using an online donation processing partner, don’t let the emailed receipt be a substitute for a personal connection with donors. A more personal gift acknowledgement should also be sent by the organization.
2.Make it prompt!
A thank you should be sent promptly after the donation is made – within 48 hours if possible. Nothing is worse than a supporter wondering if an organization even received their gift at all.
3. Make it personal.
Address the supporter by name in the greeting line, and write directly to the supporter. Kivi Leroux Miller suggests thinking of the best thank you letters as like “Hallmark cards – They feel personal, even though we know they were written for thousands of others.” Keep your letter warm, friendly, personal and short, just like a greeting card.
4. Share progress.
Supporters want to know that they matter to your organization and that their contributions make a difference. Show them – through photos, statistics, or compelling stories – how their gift is bringing about real change.
Share with us – what tweaks to your thank you letter has your organization found successful?