How to Write a Donation Thank You Letter
That Seals the Deal
Donation Thank You Letter Can Be Powerful Cultivation
By Joanne Fritz, About.com Guide
Your thank you letter to a donor concludes one transaction but, more importantly, it is a bridge
to future support. Get the thank you letter right, and you are well on your way to future
fundraising success. Here are 10 tips for making that thank you letter just right.
1. Get that thank you letter out the door quickly
Within 48 hours of receipt of the donation is ideal for getting that thank you letter in the mail. If
that is impossible, aim for under a week. The sooner, the more impressed the donor will be, not
to speak of being reassured that the donation got to you safely.
2. Do not just send a generic thank you letter
Personalize the thank you letter with the donor's name, and write directly to the individual. Use
personal pronouns and include information about the donor that you may know, such as how
long they've been a donor, or that you enjoyed seeing them at the last annual event. Perhaps
the donor has received an award or gotten a promotion. Feel free to add something about
these events to your thank you letter.
3. Customize the thank you letter
Coordinate the thank you letter with the original appeal. Really, you should draft a template
thank you letter when you are writing your appeal materials. Think of it all as part of one
campaign. If the donation is in response to some other stimulus...perhaps an event you
staged...relate the letter to that event. Think continuity for the donor. Coming full circle back to
the appeal is reassuring to the donor and shows that you are taking the time to get it right.
4. Use the thank you letter to remind the donor of how you will use the donation
The thank you letter should help the donor visualize how the money will be spent. Include a
sentence such as: "Your gift comes at a crucial moment, and will allow us to install personal
computers in the dormitories for the children in our residential community. The computers
have been anticipated eagerly by the children for the last six months. Now, thanks to you, they
will become a reality."
5. Have a real person actually sign the thank you letter
No digital signatures please for your thank you letter. Have your executive director, the board
president, or a volunteer fundraising chairperson, sign the letter. Use a blue pen for the
signature so that the recipient can tell that it is real.
6. Add a personal, hand-written note to the thank you letter
If appropriate, ask the Executive Director or Board President to add a personal note to the
thank you letter. This is especially gratifying if it is a long time donor who knows the leaders
7. Include a reply envelope with the thank you letter
You don't need to ask for a donation in the thank you letter. Just including the envelope will
remind the donor that future donations are welcome. Many donors will keep these envelopes
and use them for a donation later...or even right away.
8. Use the thank you letter as the donor's tax letter
The thank you letter can serve the purpose of a receipt if you choose. You must provide a
receipt annually for tax purposes, and you can include that disclosure with this letter. You can
also wait until the end of the year to send the tax letter. That way, you will have two contacts
with the donor. Some donors prefer to receive disclosure letters at the time they are thinking
about and gathering documents for their tax returns.
What You Need to Know About Donor Disclosures
9. Use the thank you letter to invite more engagement
Provide an invitation in the thank you letter to connect again with your organization by inviting
the donor to visit or tour your site. Not many will actually do it, but they will appreciate the
offer. For those who do take you up on the invitation, it will be a great opportunity to see how
your organization makes a difference.
10. Provide a contact name in the thank you letter
Provide the name and telephone number/email address of someone in the organization that
the donor can contact with questions. Be sure that the person named is really available and
knows that they might be contacted.
See our Sample Thank You Letter for Donation.