Donor Acknowledgement: A Fancy Way of Saying "Thank You"

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Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

Donor acknowledgement letters are a fancy term development professionals use to describe “thank you letters.” But don’t be put off by the lingo. Mama was right. Always say “Thank you.”

Tip for writing donor thank you letters with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter

Many nonprofits fail to take this important step in an effective, consistent way. And then they wonder where all their donors go.

A donor acknowledgement letter is an important tool to use to build a long-term relationship with a valuable, caring partner. Follow these steps to keep your letter focused on your donor and help him feel appreciated. By doing so, you’ll let them know you mean it when you say, “Thank you. We’re thrilled that you’re partnering with us.”

1. Keep the letter short

Only about 250 words (3-4 paragraphs), not including the P.S. But don't let the length fool you into thinking they're unimportant or easy to write.

2. Cite the donor’s specific gift amount

Say, “Thank you so much for your gift of $100,” rather than “Thanks for your gift.” Specificity means your letter can also serve as a tax receipt. Plus, donors will see that you matched their check with a name. They’ll feel like they’re a person to you rather than just an income source.

3. Tie the gift to what it will be used for

Often, donors respond to a specific appeal which you can reference in your letter. Say, “Your gift given during our recent campaign will help us conduct immunization clinics for 5,000 children this winter in central Chad” or “Your gift will provide 3 back-to-school backpacks for at-risk teenagers this fall.” The tie-in will remind donors why they gave. Donors like to know their gifts to have purpose.

4. Share a short anecdote about lives being impacted

People like stories about people. You’ll help build a donor’s confidence when he hears about a trend he’s helping to turn around and lives he’s helped change.

5. Use the letter as an education piece

Take the opportunity to reinforce your mission with donors. Cite a statistic or piece of information that underscores why your organization does what it does. These facts highlight need. You’ll help donors feel good about the decision they made to give and eliminate “donor’s remorse.”

6. Include a P.S.

The postscript ("P.S.") is an extra opportunity to direct the reader to the organization’s website, announce an event, invite donors to volunteer, or encourage them to participate with you in another way. You’ll give donors another chance to connect and go deeper. You’ll help them feel even more a part of your organization’s family!

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