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How to Write Donor Thank You Notes

Dec 30, 2022Leadership

Video Transcript
0:00:00.366,0:00:05.532 Nonprofit leaders – a donor thank you note is the beginning of future gifts. 0:00:05.533,0:00:10.299 Let me share my hard-earned lesson learned about donor gratitude. 0:00:10.333,0:00:15.433 It was early in the formation of the foundation that I helped establish and ran for 10 years. 0:00:15.433,0:00:20.666 The staff headed out for our week-long, annual convention that was months in the making. 0:00:20.833,0:00:27.299 Consequently, we left a skeleton crew at the office and planned to respond to any gifts received upon our return. 0:00:27.333,0:00:30.866 We knew we would have gifts to process when we returned. 0:00:30.966,0:00:35.466 With great surprise, a major gift came in the mail when we were out. 0:00:35.466,0:00:40.366 Immediately upon my return, I received a call from the major donor. 0:00:40.366,0:00:42.266 He was not happy. 0:00:42.366,0:00:44.132 He had not heard from us. 0:00:44.200,0:00:49.766 You see, he mailed in $5,000 and wanted to know if we had received his gift. 0:00:49.900,0:00:52.600 To say the least, I was devastated. 0:00:55.766,0:00:59.599 Make sure you subscribe to my weekly insights by clicking here! 0:00:59.600,0:01:04.600 That way, you won’t miss out on hearing about my fundraising tips and hard-earned lessons! 0:01:04.700,0:01:10.733 Obviously, I apologized to the donor and tried to explain that we had been out at our annual convention. 0:01:11.133,0:01:12.966 It didn't matter to the donor. 0:01:12.966,0:01:14.899 He had not heard from us. 0:01:15.000,0:01:21.766 As you can imagine, he wanted to know that we had received his gift that he had put in the mail over a week ago. 0:01:21.866,0:01:26.099 I will tell you – I pledged to never let that happen again. 0:01:26.266,0:01:31.266 Without question, I pledged to always be prompt in thanking donors. 0:01:31.600,0:01:35.466 Here are some lessoned learned from this painful experience of mine: 0:01:35.766,0:01:39.199 First, donors want to know you received their gift. 0:01:39.266,0:01:42.832 They want you to appreciate them and their gift. 0:01:42.900,0:01:46.833 Second, they want to feel valued by the organization. 0:01:46.833,0:01:50.333 Letting the donor know they are appreciated is critical. 0:01:50.666,0:01:55.766 The first step upon receiving a major gift is to make a personal thank-you call. 0:01:56.066,0:02:01.499 And as soon as you hang up from that phone call, write a personal note of thanks. 0:02:01.500,0:02:04.466 Now, not all thank you notes are created equal. 0:02:04.500,0:02:06.900 Let’s look closer at a thank-you note. 0:02:07.000,0:02:10.800 Here are three absolutes with every donor thank you note: 0:02:10.833,0:02:16.099 #1.   Write a hand-written, personal, and heartfelt note. 0:02:16.300,0:02:21.366 Consider your personal connection and what the donor values about your organization. 0:02:21.533,0:02:24.633 It's important to be sincere when you write your message. 0:02:24.700,0:02:28.933 A quick tip is to always make your first line memorable. 0:02:29.000,0:02:33.866 You have only one chance to make a first impression when someone opens your note. 0:02:33.933,0:02:36.133 Make your words count. 0:02:36.133,0:02:42.266 #2.   State specifically in your donor thank you note how their gift will make a difference. 0:02:42.333,0:02:47.966 It’s about the donor – the impact they are making. It’s not about the organization. 0:02:48.033,0:02:51.766 Help your donors understand that they are part of the solution. 0:02:51.766,0:02:55.199 Let them know they are the hero for your organization. 0:02:55.266,0:02:58.232 Share a story that conveys the impact of their gift. 0:02:58.366,0:03:06.566 Say, for example, “thanks to you, 140 homeless women and children received a community style holiday dinner this year.” 0:03:06.633,0:03:10.933 Share recent conversations you had with beneficiaries of your work. 0:03:11.000,0:03:17.200 #3.  Send your thank you note within 24-hours of gift receipt. 0:03:17.266,0:03:22.432 After immediately making the phone call to the donor to say thank you, send a note. 0:03:22.500,0:03:28.166 Sending a note promptly sends a message of how much you value them and their gift. 0:03:28.333,0:03:33.399 State the amount in the note – it lets the donor know you know the size of their gift. 0:03:33.400,0:03:36.733 Donors put much thought into how much they would contribute. 0:03:36.733,0:03:38.499 It was not on a whim. 0:03:38.500,0:03:41.366 They had been thinking about it for some time. 0:03:41.466,0:03:44.832 Ok, to wrap up, remember these three tips. 0:03:44.966,0:03:49.732 And remember these handwritten notes are in addition to the acknowledgment letters 0:03:49.733,0:03:54.233 generated from your customer relationship management system – your CRM. 0:03:54.300,0:04:01.833 For a couple of additional tips, have your board chair sign the acknowledgment letters with a special hand-written note at the bottom. 0:04:02.000,0:04:06.700 Have other board members send thank-you notes or make personal calls to say thanks. 0:04:06.733,0:04:11.199 Provide sample language and script to help make it easy for your board members! 0:04:11.300,0:04:14.533 Be creative in how you show gratitude. 0:04:14.566,0:04:18.999 Most important, you cannot over thank your major donors. 0:04:19.000,0:04:21.000 They have more to give. 0:04:21.166,0:04:28.432 My goal as a fundraising coach is to make sure you treat donors like they should be treated – with great respect and admiration. 0:04:28.600,0:04:34.166 Your major donors allow your organization to fulfill its mission and keep the lights on. 0:04:34.300,0:04:39.800 Now, my question to you is: How do you make your donor thank-you notes special and personalized? 0:04:39.900,0:04:40.733 Let me know! 0:04:40.733,0:04:42.299 Provide a comment below! 0:04:42.333,0:04:47.266 Ok, guys — remember to sign up for my weekly fundraising tips and strategies by clicking here 0:04:47.266,0:04:49.999 or going to www.FundraisingMaximized.com 0:04:50.000,0:04:51.600 Look for that bright Green Button! 0:04:51.666,0:04:54.166 Again, that’s www.FundraisingMaximized.com 0:04:54.233,0:04:55.866 I look forward to seeing you next time! 0:04:55.933,0:04:56.833 Bye for now!

Nancy Rieves, Ed.D. is a fundraising coach. She provides executive and development directors with a roadmap to maximize and sustain major gift fundraising. She prepares leaders to be confident and successful in raising money. Reach her at [email protected].

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