Say “Thank You”

We hope gifts are pouring in as a result of your end-of the-year appeal. One aspect of your program that should not be neglected is saying “Thank You.”

Here are some tips for acknowledging those who support your organization.

Be Prompt

• Thank donors with a sincere ‘thank you’ within 24 hours of their donation (You do not have to complete processing the donation to do this).

• Deposit checks within 72 hours.

Make It Personal

• Use hand-written letters rather than pre-printed postcards or email.

• If you use a form letter and mail merge, have a knowledgeable person check every letter to ensure the information is correct.

• Use a person’s name in the salutation and not “Dear Friend.” (It’s alright to cross out a formal salutation and write a personal name if you have a relationship with the donor.)

• Add a hand-written P.S. If the donor has a connection with a particular staff person or board member, ask that person to sign the letter or add the note.

Be Creative

• Include success stories to help your donors understand how their money is being used.

• Change your ‘thank you’ letters regularly. Use at least four different ‘thank you’ letters each year, so regular donors receive different letters. Send monthly donors a different ‘thank you’ letter each month.

• Ask board members or volunteers to write notes and make ‘thank you’ calls.

• For special donors, write a ‘thank you’ note or make a ‘thank you’ call when no gift is expected. (Some organizations stage a “Thank-a-thon” by phone just to thank people who have given during the year.)

A “Wow!” Gift Deserves a “Wow!” Response

• When you open an envelope to an unexpected or larger-than-expected donation, drop everything and pick up the phone. Nothing makes a donor feel better than knowing she has made your day. (You still need to acknowledge the gift in writing.)

• Visit donors who make major contributions, indicate bequest intentions, or who are elderly and have supported the organization for a long time. Fundraising research indicates that annual giving and lifetime giving increase consistently as a result of such attention.

• Special gifts require special recognition. Feature your special donors in your newsletter or on your website. However, be sure to honor the wishes of those donors who wish to remain anonymous.

The IRS requires all gifts over $250 are acknowledged with a receipt or letter stating no goods or services were received by the donor. You aren’t legally required to send ‘thank you’ notes for smaller gifts, but remember this:

Expressing gratitude for donations builds goodwill and paves the way for more and larger donations.

Next Month: Volunteers and Your Organization

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Sharon Rabb has more than 25 years of experience in fundraising and nonprofit management for both large and small organizations. She currently serves as Project Specialist for tCampaign Consultation, Inc . Rabb holds a Master Degree in nonprofit management from Notre Dame of Maryland University and wrote her thesis on Women and Philanthropy: a design for approaching female donor prospects. Read more.

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