How to Write a (Fundraising) Thank-You Note
5. Tell her how her gift is being used. "I want you to know that your donation is already helping people like Sarah (the story from the appeal) ..."
6. Soft ask (part 1): Another hot topic was whether the TY should include an ask for a second gift. Based on long experience with a lot of different clients, I think a soft ask is a good thing. The reason your donor sent you a gift in the first place is that she believes in you and wants to help. The TY letter should give her another opportunity to experience the good feeling she got from helping you the first time.
But the key word is soft. Say something like, "The continuing support of friends like you is what makes our work possible ..."
7. Thank her again. "Again, please accept my sincere thanks ..."
8. Add a P.S., just as you would to any letter. It can expand the reference you made to the appeal, remind the donor of your larger mission, or add anything else that's relevant. Just remember most readers read the P.S. before the body of the letter, so make sure it's relevant and urgent.
9. Soft ask (part 2). Include a reply device. Do not include an ask string. The copy should be mission-focused, and positioned from the donor's perspective. "Yes, Bob. I want to continue helping ... etc. I'm enclosing an additional, special gift of $____..."
10. Include a reply envelope (RE). Some organizations use a Business Reply Envelope (BRE), with prepaid postage, so the donor doesn’t have to use her own stamp. We've tested this a number of times and in most cases the slight increase in response is not enough to overcome the extra cost of the BRE. But it's something you might want to test for yourself.
By the way, lest we confuse strategy with courtesy, let's not forget that the real reason we write thank-you notes to donors is that it's the right thing to do. They gave us a gift and it's only proper that we thank them for it.
Willis believes in expressive writing, exceptional fundraising, and exuberant living.
Willis Turner is the senior copywriter at Huntsinger & Jeffer. He was an experienced writer and creative director in the traditional advertising world for more than 20 years before making the switch to fundraising nearly 15 years ago. In his work with nonprofit organizations and associations, he has written thousands of appeals, renewals and acquisition communications for every medium. He creates direct-response campaigns, as well as collateral materials and communications, that get attention, tell emotional stories, and persuade people to take action or make a donation.