Ann C. Fitzgerald, President
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Our tendency is to think about thank you letters as an administrative chore rather than an essential relationship-building activity. Here are some guidelines for establishing an effective thank you policy in your organization:
- Be personal. Focus on writing to one person. And don’t forget to thank everyone, regardless of the size of their gift.
- Be prompt. Send a thank you letter within 48 hours.
- Be specific. Assure donors that their gift is being used for the purpose they requested.
- Be creative. Consider involving volunteers; make thank you phone calls in addition to sending a letter; hand-write thank you notes, etc.
- Get the thank you letters out of Accounting, but remember the IRS. A thank you letter is more than a receipt; it’s an important step towards donor retention. Keep your letter focused on the donor but be sure to include the appropriate IRS acknowledgement.
Today’s Tip: Plan Your Thank You
When preparing a direct mail appeal or other large mailing, draft a thank you letter at the same time you draft the appeal. That way you will be ready to send a thank you letter as soon as the first responses arrive.
Dear Ann: We are preparing a mailing to a prospecting list. What should we send new donors to thank them for joining our organization?
Answer: This would be a good time to develop a welcome package. In addition to a personal thank you letter, you may also want to include a brochure that tells more about your organization, a copy of your newsletter, or information about the benefits of membership. Your goal is to have donors feel they are an important part of your organization and your success.
Do you have a question for Ann? Send it to email@example.com
Sources for Success
The Zen of Fundraising: 89 Timeless Ideas to Strengthen and Develop Your Donor Relationships by Ken Burnett is a great source for additional information on building effective donor relationships.
Ann C. Fitzgerald is Founder and President of AC Fitzgerald, using her decades of experience in fundraising, management, leadership, and sales to help nonprofits build their capacity and achieve success. She is a sought-after speaker, writer, and advisor.