When was the last time you received a beautifully written letter? Was it from a loved one? Was it from a nonprofit you support? If it was from a nonprofit, did the organization connect their purpose and vision to your passion and values?
If you have not received a warmly written nonprofit thank you, my guess is that it’s because you only received a tax receipt. If you did receive a letter, it likely wasn’t timely and focused on the organization rather than the impact that your gift made.
Thank you letters are the perfect opportunity to shine a light on the donor and express gratitude in a meaningful way.
Think of it like this — you host a dinner party. One of the guests sends a thank you note afterward, and it reads: “Thank you for inviting me to the dinner party on October 1, 2018 at your home. I ate appetizers, the main course, and dessert I will consider hosting a party, but I’ll have to see what our budget is, as I’m sure you spent a lot of money. Sincerely … “
Another guest sends the following: “Thank you for welcoming me into your lovely home for the dinner party with the Miller and Smith families. You are a gracious host! Your friendship means so much to me, and I look forward to hosting you and the other families in December. I look forward to seeing you again sometime soon. Sincerely … “
The first letter may seem absurd, but it is a format that nonprofits use all too often. Nonprofit thank you letters are far too transactional, far too often. Common mistakes include:
- Listing specifics of the gift date and purpose at the opening of the letter.
- It’s not personalized with names.
- It’s all about the organization, its activities, and its budget.
The data is overwhelming. Penelope Burk, a thought leader on donor behavior, cites the power of a meaningful thank you letter. Her research shows that 45% of donors have given again because of a great thank you letter, and 23% of donors have made a larger gift.
Article by: Kerri Laubenthal Mollard, Founder & CEO