How, When and Why to Thank Donors
Should you solicit another gift in your thank-you note to new and existing donors? This is where my colleagues disagree.
Burnett: “No. Never. That’s not a ‘thank you,’ that’s a further solicitation. Though many won’t say so, most will be offended.”
But Tim Burgess, president of the Domain Group, disagrees: “Absolutely. Giving donors the opportunity to give again is a great service to the donor. The donor made a well-founded decision to give because they wanted to give. They are emotionally bound to your organization.”
Terpstra takes the middle ground: “Recognize their generosity, but also let them know the need is still great and an additional gift would be helpful. The gift ask in the acknowledgement should be softer. Add a reply envelope or a wallet-flap envelope with some standard gift asks on the flap if you are not comfortable including an extra-gift reply form in your acknowledgement.”
Organizations report that as much as 15 percent of their donor income can be tracked back to a request made when acknowledging a gift.
Not just a courtesy
Besides building relationships, gift acknowledgements serve administrative purposes, too. The Internal Revenue Service requires that all 501(c)(3) organizations inform donors in writing of the value of their charitable contribution for all gifts of $75 or more and when offering a substantial premium or incentive for giving. What’s more, donors who contribute $250 or more must obtain a written document from the charity to qualify for a tax deduction. Charities are not required to acknowledge high-end gifts unless the donor requests it, but it has become common practice because it just makes sense.
For a very detailed explanation of these requirements, see the “On the Record” column in the March and May issues of FundRaising Success. You can find them now in the Article Archives at www.fundraisingsuccessmag.com.