Most emailed thank yous are terrible. Those emails are not much more than a receipt. And that's just not enough. The same rules that apply to mailed thank yous apply to emailed ones.
Here Are Some Basic Guidelines
- Put your organization's name in the "From" line of your email. The donor wants to know who you are if she is going to consider even opening your thank you.
- Be clear in the "Subject" line. Say exactly what this email is about. Something like "A warm thanks!" works. Or, "Thank you for your donation." Don't use more than 45 characters so that it will show up entirely in the subject line.
- Get personal. Start your message with the donor's name. First names are powerful, so use them, such a "Dear Joanne" or Dear Fred and Louise." Use a comma rather than a colon. You want to be informal, not stuffy.
- Start with a warm "thank you," mentioning the amount of the donation and the name of the campaign or fund to which the donation was made. Donors want to know that their money went to the specific purpose for which they gave, so do say which campaign or goal was involved.
- Tell a story about how that donation will help someone or solve a problem. Be specific and descriptive, while still being respectful of your clients. Also, when possible, tell a story about a single child or animal. People respond better to stories that involve one person or animal rather than a group.
- Add a photo. Photos are easy to add in an email. Use a heartwarming image that also reminds the donor of who or what she has just helped. Avoid stock photos, but also protect the privacy of vulnerable people.
- Tell the donor when he will hear from you next. Will you be able to report the results of a particular campaign? When? Will you be sending a newsletter or a report?
- Give the donor contact information should they have questions or want more information. Provide a name, phone number, and email address of a specific person. Say "call Amy," rather than just a phone number or email address.
- Use the signature of someone important. That could be your Board President, Executive Director, Development Director, or the chairperson of this particular campaign.
- Do include a P.S. Why? People are used to it. The beginning and the P.S. are the first things your donor will likely read. The postscript (or P.S.) is an excellent place to spark more engagement. Encourage the donor to visit your website, view a video, sign up for your newsletter, or follow your organization on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Take advantage of the fact that you can include live links in an email.
- Include a disclosure such as "Please consider this letter a receipt for your contribution of $50 on 4/16/2020. This confirms that no goods or services were received for this contribution, which is completely tax-deductible."
Email Thank You From Helen Keller International
A donation to an appeal to promote sweet potatoes in Africa to boost vitamin A consumption prompted this email thank-you from Helen Keller International.
The turnaround of two days was impressive, but the email is too short and terse to really build a bond with the donor beyond this donation. The story of a specific child or family whose lives were made better through the donation would be more effective. There is a link to a video and a newsletter that tell the story more fully. But, one should never depend on a reader to follow through. Tell the story in the letter as well.
Some things that this thank you gets right are:
- The subject line says right away what this email is about
- The use of the first name in the salutation
- The invitation to take further action by subscribing to a newsletter
- The link to a video
- Good contact information
The email's subject line read: "Thank you for your recent donation!"
Dear [First name],
Thank you very much for your recent donation on Global Giving to Helen Keller International's "Eating Orange for Better Health in Burkina Faso" project.
As you now know, this humble root can have a major impact on women and children by providing them with sight- and life-saving vitamin A. I would like to now invite you to subscribe to our e-newsletter, WorldView, sent once a month, so you can learn more about how your support is helping HKI prevent blindness and reduce malnutrition for the most vulnerable around the world.
Our most recent edition on our orange-fleshed sweet potato program can be viewed by clicking here. You can sign up for the newsletter by clicking here.
I hope you will decide to stay in touch with us.
Helen Keller International
352 Park Avenue South, Suite 1200
New York, NY 10010
Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other's welfare, social justice can never be attained. - Helen Keller
Watch videos from ABC World News about our orange-fleshed sweet potato and vitamin A programs.
Doctors Without Borders Sent This Video Message for a Recurring Donation
Thank you emails for recurring donations can be less elaborate since the organization and donor already have a relationship. Doctors Without Borders handles monthly donors well. This video thank you is an example. Notice that this thank you does not mention a specific disaster, but encompasses the totality of what the organization does: go wherever there is a need.
Here's what it said:
VIDEO: FOR ALL YOU'VE DONE, THANK YOU
While you are watching this video, MSF teams are saving lives in crises all over the world, from the Central African Republic to Yemen, the Lake Chad region to the Aegean Sea. It’s because of your generosity that we’re able to respond when disasters, wars, and epidemics strike. On behalf of our patients and staff: Thank you!
Camfed's Email Thank You Letter for a Monthly Donation
Camfed sends a thank you email each month after recurring donors give. The bottom of the email contains a history of the donors' transactions that will be used for tax purposes.
This letter is quite short, and Camfed misses an opportunity to engage more deeply with the donor. Something about the organization's most recent work or a link to a recent press release or news story would be helpful. If you're fortunate enough to have a recurring donor, make sure that you do everything you can to retain her.
Dear [First name],
Thank you for your donation to Camfed.
Thank you for supporting Camfed’s work with your generous regular donations. Your valuable gift is helping us provide long-term support to girls and young women in Africa.
If you have any questions about your order or about our work, we would love to hear from you. Please email email@example.com or call 415-963-4489.
The Camfed Team
369 Pine Street, Suite 420
San Francisco, CA 94104
Telephone: +01 415-963-4489| firstname.lastname@example.org
Please print or save this message for your personal records. You can use this page as a receipt for tax purposes.
Thank You for Online Donation in the Wake of a Disaster
Notice how this thank you letter is specific to the disaster the donor wished to help. Plus, there is a testimonial from a disaster victim. That testimonial makes a huge impression on a donor. It takes the disaster from an amorphous event to the effect on a single person.
Dear [First Name],
Thank you for your gift of $___. Convoy of Hope has deployed trucks and teams to Joplin, Mo. "Our prayers go out to the families in Joplin who lost loved ones, homes and businesses, says Hal Donaldson. Because of friends like you, Convoy of Hope was able to immediately deploy teams and emergency relief supplies to aid victims of these massive storms. Thank you!
Your financial gift helped people like Rachael, who lost her home and had no food for her children. Convoy of Hope workers supplied Rachael and her family with food, water, and hygiene products at one of our distribution sites just outside Birmingham, Ala.
"When you have kids and you don’t know how you are going to feed them, it means so much to know there are people here to help," says Rachael.
Thank you again for your rapid response that enabled Convoy of Hope to help thousands like Rachael across the southeast in the wake of this disaster.
Thank you for your gift of $____ to Convoy of Hope. It is the donations, such as yours, that equip us to help in Japan, continue our work in Haiti, and all our other outreaches as well.
Because of friends like you, our disaster responders have deployed to the region where they will purchase and distribute life-saving food, water, and supplies in cooperation with our in-country partners.
With your help, we will reach even more families and children in need here at home and around the world this year.
Below is a summary of your gift. You can also access a receipt online by clicking on this link: xxxxxx
Payment Method: Mastercard Credit Card, ************
Designation: US Disaster Response
Thank you for your compassion.
Hal Donaldson, President
Email Thank You Letter From International Aid Agency
Here is a thank you letter from an international aid organization, Partners in Health (PIH). The donation was in response to an email fundraising plea for additional help to aid Haitians in weathering a hurricane and dealing with a Cholera outbreak.
The letter is brief and a bit general, addressing the overall work of the organization, rather than the specific need for which the donation was intended.
One problem with this letter is the formal and stiff language used to describe PIH's work. An example is this phrase, "...we work to disseminate our model to others..." Public health organizations often speak in the jargon used in professional public health circles. That's not what appeals to most donors.
What is good about this email is that the "from" line specifies exactly who sent the email, and the "subject" line states what the email is about. How these fields are handled is very important to ensure that the donor actually opens the email. It's best to just be specific rather than coy or cryptic.
From: Partners In Health
Subject: Thank you for your donation to Partners in Health
On behalf of Partners In Health, I would like to thank you for your donation of $xx.xx. Every dollar that you contribute is deeply appreciated by the communities in which we work. Your gift will be designated to support our work in Haiti, or if you selected, to support our work worldwide.
Over twenty years ago, when Partners In Health was first founded in Haiti, we vowed to provide the very best medical care in places that had none, to accompany our patients through their care and treatment, and to address the root causes of their illness. Today, we work in twelve countries with a comprehensive approach to breaking the cycle of poverty and disease — through direct health care delivery as well as community-based interventions in agriculture and nutrition, housing, clean water, and income generation.
Our work begins with the patient before us but extends far beyond to the transformation of communities, health systems, and global health policy. We have documented and disseminated the successes of our integrated approach in the midst of tragedies like the devastating earthquake in Haiti, in countries still scarred from war, like Rwanda, Guatemala, and Burundi, and even in inner-city Boston.
Through collaboration with leading medical and academic institutions like Harvard Medical School and the Brigham & Women’s Hospital, we work to disseminate our model to others; through advocacy efforts aimed at global health funders and policymakers, we seek to raise the standard for what is possible in the delivery of health care in the poorest corners of the world.
It is your generosity and belief in our mission that enables us to perform this work, and we are deeply grateful for your partnership.
Partners In Health
You can log in to view, download, and print your online donation history here: XXXXXXXXX
Partners In Health, a 501 (c)(3) not for profit organization, has not provided any goods or services, in whole or in part, to you in consideration for this voluntary cash contribution. If you wish to claim the tax deductibility of this gift in the U.S., please retain this acknowledgment letter for your files. Partners In Health's EIN number is xxxxx.