To improve your donor experience and keep your donors loyal to your organization, you need to send a thank-you letter within 48 hours of receiving the donation. Studies have shown that a simple and heartfelt but promptly sent acknowledgement is more effective than an elaborate one that arrives weeks later.
Yet I repeatedly hear from fundraising and resource development professionals that they struggle to get an effective thank-you letter out promptly.
They struggle with two major problems:
- They have trouble coming up with the content for an effective letter.
- Organizational leaders want to sign the thank-you letters personally, but they keep getting pulled away from the task to handle many other important responsibilities.
The first challenge is simple enough to fix. Here’s what to include in your thank-you letter:
- The donor’s name in the salutation.
- Thank you.
- The amount received.
- How the money will be used.
- The difference it will make.
- Thank you again.
- When and how your donor can expect to receive their tax receipt.
- Something else the donor can do to stay involved with your cause.
- A final thank you.
Yes, I suggest you say thank you three times in your letter. Say it at the beginning, in the middle and at the end. Your main message is gratitude, and your goal is to make your donor feel like a hero.
To really make your donors feel great, try including a message from people who have been helped. But don’t hold up the process trying to create this content when you have an influx of year-end donations to recognize. Do plan ahead for next year though, and create a bank of stories to use throughout 2014. When your donations come in you will have a story ready to enclose with your thank-you letter, or you can incorporate a quotation directly into the letter itself.
The second problem can be trickier. But there are ways to tactfully and effectively deal with leaders who have great intentions but so many obligations that they can’t follow through. Check back tomorrow for part II of this post and several suggestions for tackling this sticky situation and making sure your year-end thank-you letters go out on time this year.
What do you include in your thank-you letters? Do you offer them a way to stay connected to your organization and your cause? Please share your thoughts in the comments.