5 Tips to Get Your Nonprofit Writing Thank You Letters

Surprise! A new donation came through on your nonprofit website – what’s your next move?

  1. Do you take the relationship for granted, smile, and move on?
  2. Do you sit down, appreciate the relationship and write a thank you note?

Statistics and research have proven handwritten thank you notes sent within the 48 hours of the donation will increase the likelihood that they will donate again by 4x. Writing thank you notes can be one of the most impactful commitments you make as a nonprofit.

Why is the impact of a hand-written thank you note for donations so high?

Go to your mailbox and look through your snail mail. Examine what you see:

Junk mail, junk mail, some more junk mail… Oh, hey! Sigh… There’s the mortgage bill.

A thank you letter interrupts the daily monotonous scan of mail. A handwritten letter is a surprise, it’s gratifying, and it’s quite intimate in this age of emails, social media, and texts.

Here are 5 tips to get your nonprofit writing thank you notes to your donors.

Tip 1: It takes a team to thank your donors.

Your organization is not one person. So don’t assign the task of writing thank you letters to only one person within the non-profit. One, their hand will start cramping. Two it’s great practice for everyone to participate in thanking the donors. The more you practice, the more it becomes second nature.

Tip 2: Have a Thank You Letter Framework  

Make it easy for anyone to write a thank you note. We don’t want to sound like an automated email system, but we also don’t want to get hung up on what to say. Thank you notes are not a normal practice anymore. Giving them a starting point will allow your staff to accomplish more in less time, especially if they are out of practice.

Tip 3: Make sure everyone is thanked

Have a system to make sure everyone is thanked. It can be as simple as having a clipboard with a list of donors that need to be thanked. Or to the other end, a sophisticated Donor Management System that tracks the cultivation of a relationship.

Tip 4: Thank your donors in a timely manner

Remember that stat? Sending thank you notes within 48 hours increases your donor retention by 4Xs. Just commit to it, no questions asked. The longer you wait, the less effective your thank you note will be. The benefit, they are more welcoming when you approach them for a new ask because you gifted them with personal gratification the last go-around.

Tip 5: Not all donors are created equal

Keep the level of thank you near the level of kindness you received. It’s about making them feel appreciated. If it’s a high-dollar donation, go beyond a handwritten letter sending them extra touchpoints, such as a phone call, an invitation of a tour, or sharing a touching story of success. If it’s a low one-time donation, think smaller, but still appreciate them. Small one-time donations can add up over the lifetime of a donor relationship.

While your non-profit organization will not end if you don’t send out handwritten thank you notes, it will definitely show a return on investment if you do. Committing to any kind of donor stewardship is committing to the growth of your nonprofit’s mission – allowing you to make the greatest impact possible.