Not every thank-you letter has to be long and involved. What if your donor is loyal, giving monthly or often responding to your appeals?
The letter that works well for the first-time giver might not be right for a frequent and long-term donor.
Instead, try something short with a handwritten P.S. at the end or a postcard with a lovely photo. Or send a handwritten note or create a great post-donation landing page.
The point is not to standardize your thank you so much as thinking through what will work best for this particular donor. Get creative or design some thank yous for broad categories such as a monthly donor, a long-standing donor, the first time donor, or a treasured volunteer.
How to Thank a Long Time Donor
Here is an example of a brief thank-you letter that has that personal touch: It could be perfect for your long-time donor who has been thanked a jillion times. A short, personalized thank you still packs a punch.
Dear Ms. Brown,
On behalf of everyone here at Therapeutic Riding for Children, thank you for your recent generous gift and for allowing us to direct your donation where the need is greatest. Your support truly makes a difference in the lives of the children and adults we serve.
The entire TRFC team wishes you and your family a very happy holiday season. Thanks for becoming a true "pardner" in our success!
[Hand written P.S.] Thanks, Joanne! I enjoyed seeing you at the Saddles and Spurs event back in November. That was a good time! Liz
Postcard Thank-Yous Are Sweet to Donors and Supporters
Any donor or supporter would love to get a cute thank-you postcard from your organization. And today, it's easy to cook up a postcard using your smartphone.
Here's text for a hypothetical postcard:
Dear Janie and Todd,
We were so excited to hear about your cupcake sale! We loved the pictures!
We're going to be able to provide even more services to the adorable kids at CancerCare because of you.
Lani, who is recovering from chemotherapy, and Eddie, who just got home from a long stay in the hospital, told us to say thank you too.
We are looking forward to your future cupcake sales. Just let us know if we can help.
Hugs from all of us,
Sharon and the Gang
Cupcakes for a Cause
Apps for smartphones make it even easier now to send physical postcards using photos you've snapped with your phone. Check out this review of several apps.
Saying Thank You With the Perfect Post-Donation Landing Page
Do you even need a thank-you letter when you've created a post-donation landing page as good as the one above from charity: water? Honestly, when I saw this, I just lingered over it, savoring the moment.
Charity: water colors outside the lines of nonprofit practices all the time. Set up primarily as an online organization, charity: water is about as nontraditional as it gets. Here are some ways the organization does things differently:
- Maintains a laser focus on one mission - digging wells in places where fresh, clean water is rare and hard to retrieve.
- Found donors that pay the processing fees for all credit card donations so that 100% of each one goes right to the charity's work.
- Creates multimedia in abundance, such as video thank-yous, the most fabulous photos you'll see in nonprofit work, and encourages supporters to use images freely to spread the word.
Charity: water does send thank-you letters by email. Here is the one I got after donating:
Thank you for your donation to charity: water! 100% of your gift will help build sustainable water projects for communities in need.
A tax receipt for your donation will be sent to this e-mail address in 24 hours.
Water changes everything. Preventable waterborne diseases are drastically decreased. Long walks to muddy ponds and rivers are no longer necessary. Time spent collecting water is reduced, offering women a chance to earn an income, and children a chance at a better education.
Clean water offers improved health, a better quality of life, and hope for a better future.
Tthe team at charity: water
Tell a Story in an Emailed Thank You
If you've got stories about kids or animals, you can easily drop one of them into a heartfelt email thank you to a donor. Include a beautiful photo and you'll likely have a donor for life.
Here's one I got from Easter Seals. Notice that this note is from a mom! (See more email thank yous here.)
This Thanksgiving, my family owes so much to Easter Seals supporters like you. I want to join with Easter Seals to let you know how important you are - helping people who rely on Easter Seals. You make a tremendous difference in the lives of children, adults and veterans.
Just a few months ago, at 2½ years old, my sweet Brinley took her first unassisted steps. That’s something we weren’t sure would ever be possible!
Brinley was born with a spinal cord defect and missing her corpus callosum – part of her brain. Doctors weren’t sure if she would ever talk, walk or even move on her own. I remember feeling terrified and uncertain.
Now, after two years of hard work with Easter Seals and with help from people like you, Brinley is talking up a storm and walking on her own! I feel so incredibly blessed, and I just can’t thank you enough for your support.
You are making a life-changing difference for so many people who rely on Easter Seals by helping them discover their abilities and realize their full potential. And every time they celebrate a new milestone or accomplishment, you’re a part of it.
On behalf of Easter Seals and all the families you help, thank you. May you and your loved ones have a wonderful Thanksgiving full of blessings.
Grateful Easter Seals Mom
P.S. If you’d like to learn more about our story, you can follow our journey here and see how Easter Seals supporters like you make a difference!