Nonprofit Growth

Thank-You Letters for Nonprofit Donations

Thank-you messages for donors

Everyone likes fun mail — the type of correspondence that doesn’t demand a response or anything in return. You can do this for your donors through thank-you letters for nonprofit donations.

Does your nonprofit send thank-you letters to contributors? What do you do after someone makes a gift to your nonprofit? Of course, you process the payment. But what about after that? The next thing to do is to ensure the contributor receives a proper thank-you letter. It’s a chance to make a supporter feel appreciated. This kind of positive interaction improves donor retention and can have a long-term impact on your nonprofit’s growth.

A well-written thank-you letter can get the relationship with your contributors off to a good start and lead to additional giving in the future. Retaining existing supporters requires fewer resources than gaining new ones. Thank-you letters for nonprofit donations are low-cost tools that can garner a big return on donor retention.

Thank-You Letters For Nonprofit Donations

A donor thank-you letter is more detailed and targeted than a regular thank-you note. It contains a message that not only expresses sincere gratitude but is custom-tailored to match the individuality of the particular donor. The intention the supporter had in mind when he or she made the gift should be the focus.

Thank-you letters can be sent on their own or as part of a packet which contains brochures, reports, and other materials. This is the perfect time to do some donor education. The supporter already has an interest — so why not provide more information about all the great things your nonprofit does. Share how the donor fits into the picture. Tell your supporter how his or her gift helps your nonprofit achieve its mission or vision.

You could list ways for a donor to take further action and engage with your nonprofit. Perhaps there are volunteer opportunities, events, or other nonprofit activities the donor could do? This makes it easier for the contributor to take their interest in your nonprofit a step beyond the donation.

Importance Of Saying ‘Thank You’

It’s good etiquette to say “thank you” whenever you can. When a donor gives to your nonprofit, be sure to acknowledge the gift and how much that you care.

Sending thank-you letters to donors shows that your nonprofit values its contributors. They make everything possible. It’s part of an overall strategy to engage and retain supporters. Try to spend as much time thanking your donors as you do with your fundraising efforts. Hopefully, your supporters will be inclined to repeat their giving sometime in the future. Chances improve if you treat your donors like friends. Make them feel that they are a welcome part of your organization.

Send your donors special thank-you messages by regular U.S. mail, email, or both. This can set your nonprofit apart from others.

How To Write Nonprofit Thank-Yous    

Think of a thank-you letter as an opportunity to reach out to your donor in a thoughtful and structured way. Focus on the supporter and convey a sense of appreciation for the gift.

A well-written thank-you letter makes the donor feel good. It should be genuine, personal, and somewhat emotive. The goal is to let the donor know your heartfelt gratitude and nurture a good relationship.

Use these top ten tips to write your donation thank-you letters.

  1. Send as soon as possible after a donation is made, within 2 – 3 days is ideal. It can be delivered via U.S. mail, email, or both. Generally, email appeals to younger donors or online/social media contributors, and traditional mail to older adults.
  2. Focus on the donor’s point of view. Maximize the use of “you” and “your.” Minimize the use of “we.” If you can, avoid “we” altogether.
  3. Include the full and correct name of the donor. Be careful with salutations and gender.
  4. Have the letter come from a person and have the document signed with a real signature. Use the name of the executive director or someone else with authority within the nonprofit.
  5. Use a conversational tone like you would talk to a friend. This will convey warmth and friendliness. After all, your donors are your nonprofit’s best friends.
  6. For recurring contributors, mention something about their history with the nonprofit, or for new members, convey a warm welcome.
  7. Let the donor know how his or her donation made an impact to the nonprofit. Tell a compelling story, share a revealing quote or use photos to illustrate the way the donation was put into action.
  8. Be brief. Make every word count. Don’t go over 1 page.
  9. Be focused on thankfulness. Don’t ask for more money.
  10. Provide contact information to someone in your organization who can answer any questions the donor may have.

Get Writing

Ready to write your thank-you? The act of writing something as personal as a thank-you letter sounds intimidating, but it does not have to be. Just jot something down and check that it has appeal for the donor. If possible, get someone outside your nonprofit to read the letter. Be sure the letter is interesting and something another person would enjoy reading.  

Once you craft a thank-you letter you like, save it so you can use it for a template. Next time you need to send one out, the process will go much faster if you have a starting point already in place. This will also make your communications more consistent.

Sample Thank-You Letter

Take a look at the sample below as a best practice model for a donor thank-you letter. The letter is set-up to be customized for a new member. It spells out exactly how important the membership is to the nonprofit, shows how the donation was used and what the nonprofit is doing long-term to fulfill its mission and vision.

New members receive this letter in the mail along with other information about the nonprofit. The organization uses this template and others to communicate with its supporters, build relationships and set the stage for additional giving.

This sample letter is provided courtesy of the Door County Land Trust.

Donor – General : Today’s Date – Long Format without time

Donor – Contact Information : Addressee – Informal

Donor – Contact Information : Address Line 1

Donor – Contact Information : City, Donor – Contact Information : State/Province Donor – Contact Information : ZIP/Postal Code

Dear Donor – Contact Information : Salutation – Informal,

Thank you for your gift to the Door County Land Trust. Your Donation : Donation Amount contribution helps protect Door County’s future. By contributing to Door County Land Trust, you join the community of supporters who help protect and care for Door County’s land, shorelines and islands. Member support is the single largest source of funding for the effort to protect Door County’s exceptional lands and waters.

Thanks to members like you, Door County Land Trust now protects more than 8,500 acres across our richly diverse peninsula and islands. In partnership with the Land Trust, you ensure places cherished by our community will be protected for generations to come.

Caring for Door County’s native, rare and threatened species is the noble work that you help make possible. Your support makes it possible to create native plantings, remove invasive plants threatening our native wildlife habitat, and diligently monitor the health of the land. In addition to protecting critical landscapes, restoring our native ecology supports the web of life thriving on our peninsula and islands. 

As a new Land Trust member, you are now a partner in the exciting endeavor to protect and care for Door County’s exceptional lands and waters. Your welcome packet includes our Hiking Trails Map with information about the nature preserves that members help to protect, the latest issue of Landings Journal of the Door County Land Trust, our Nature Notes Calendar, and other materials that outline our work across the peninsula and islands.

Protecting the peninsula and islands would not be possible without your support. Your help truly makes a difference on this grand peninsula—a place like no other in the world.

Yours in conservation,

Tom Clay                                            Cinnamon Rossman

Executive Director                              Director of Charitable Giving

Your donation of Donation : Donation Amount was received on Donation : Donation Date – Short Format without time. As the Door County Land Trust is a non-profit organization under section 501(c)3 of the federal tax code, and as you received no goods or services in exchange for this contribution, your donation may be tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. You may wish to seek independent legal and tax advice regarding the deductibility of your gift. Please retain this letter for your tax records.

Thank-You Letter Take-Aways

Are you doing everything you can to make your donors feel like they are an important part of your nonprofit? Do you send your contributors thank-you letters? If your organization doesn’t have a system in place, create one. Having a set of templates for thank-you letters and other correspondence will make it easier to get things out the door.

By keeping in touch with your donors, you will strengthen ties and be poised to receive more donations from your base. Supporters like to be recognized in a personal way and a customized letter achieves this end — but for your nonprofit, it’s just the beginning of the donor journey.

The benefits of follow-up warrant the effort to craft a thank-you letter to each donor. You’ll be thankful you did.

By Lee Ann Owens