Expressing your gratitude for donations builds goodwill with your donors and paves the way for more and larger donations in the future.
Here are five tips to help development officers, executive directors and board members acknowledge donors and other supporters.
The shorter the turnaround, the more the donor is impressed with your personal attention and by the notion that you need and appreciate the money! Establish an efficient acknowledgement process in which:
Checks are cashed promptly (within 72 hours)
Donors receive a sincere and professional thank you two to seven days after their donation (or sooner, if you can manage it)
Make It Personal
Nobody likes to feel like they’re just another face in the crowd, so give your thank-you the personal touch:
Use letters or handwritten notes rather than pre-printed postcards.
Personalize the letters; you can use a standard template, but add in personal information about the donation and, if possible, the donor
If you use a form letter and mail merge, have someone knowledgeable check every letter to make sure the information is correct
Form letters can also be personalized by adding a hand-written P.S.
Make the Donor Feel Good About the Gift
Share everything you can so that your thank-you is tailored to the actual fundraising event:
Thank-you letters should detail recent initiatives and success stories to give your donors a sense of how their money is being put to use
Aim to have at least four different thank-you letters in a year, so that regular donors receive different letters
If you have monthly donors, each month's thank-you letter should be different
You may also want to give monthly donors the option of receiving one annual acknowledgement; however, occasional handwritten thank-yous to these donors in addition to the formal acknowledgment are likely to be very well received
Having board members write notes and make thank-you calls can be very effective
A "Wow!" Gift Deserves a "Wow!" Phone Call
When you open an envelope to an unexpected or larger-than-expected donation that makes you say "Wow!", drop everything and pick up the phone. Nothing makes a donor feel better than knowing he or she has made your day by providing significant support for work you both believe in:
Leave a voice message if the donor does not pick up the phone
Follow up with a written acknowledgement of the donation
Pay a Visit
Visit donors who indicate bequest intentions, make major contributions, or are elderly and have supported the organization for some time:
Do NOT solicit additional funding during your visit
If possible, have board members make at least one thank-you visit a year