It seems contradictory to be thinking about no-no’s when saying thanks, but there are some things that you need to avoid. Unfortunately, there are far too many organizations that do these things without giving them a second thought. Help your organization stand out by avoiding these no-no’s.
- Don’t be impersonal. Even if your letter was addressed, “Dear Friend,” you now have the name of the donor, so use it. Address your thank you letter to the donor.
- Don’t be general. Include specifics in your thank you. For instance, mention the amount the individual gave. Include the date the gift was received.
- Don’t send a generic thank you. People contribute to the work of the nonprofit or ministry because they care about what you are doing. Include information in your letter about how the gift will be used and how it will make a difference for those you serve. The thank you letter is another opportunity to help the donor be a hero.
- Don’t be general or vague about the donation. In other words, be specific. What is the donation going to help you do? What is it making possible? Share a success that you are able to accomplish because of the generosity of the donor.
- Don’t focus on the gift so much that you forget the gift came from a person—the donor. Treat donors like individuals and recognize the gift came from that person who can has lots of choices available to them about what to do with their money.
- Don’t include another “ask.” When a thank-you letter includes another request for funding, it negates the thank-you and places the focus on the ask. This will leave your donor feeling unappreciated and that you were not grateful for the first gift. The rule of thumb is to thank someone seven times before making another ask.
- Don’t use generic letters. Of course you will probably use a template or some common language in all of your thank you letters, but try to keep each one fresh. Use the letter as a time to connect with the donor, include some unique phrases so that it doesn’t sound like it was bulk-written.
The general rule of thumb when writing a thank you letter is to think about the person as an individual – not just another file in your database. Keep in mind how you like to be treated and how it makes you feel when you realize that someone really knows and cares about you. Put yourself in the donor’s shoes.