Whew! Your year-end appeal is at the printer or in the mail.
But you can’t sit back and relax unless your thank you letter is every bit as good as your appeal letter. The thank you letter is an underutilized tool when it comes to building a relationship with donors.
Here are some ways to improve your thank you letters:
Emotion: Relationships with donors are rational, but remember, they’re emotional as well. That emotional element is often what’s missing from thank you letters (and too often from appeal letters as well).
Your supporters may offer many different reasons for why they give, but in fact, all their reasons boil down to this: They give because it makes them feel good.
And if your thank you letter makes them feel good, they will want to give again.
If you list a bunch of statistics in a cold letter, you’re not giving your donors what they need. You’re not engaging them on that emotional level. You’re not allowing them to bask in the warm glow of knowing they helped someone. You must reach them on an emotional level, and the best way to do that is to tell a story of someone whose life is better because of the donor’s gift.
Tell a story: When you write an appeal letter, you’re careful to include an emotional story of a service recipient that illustrates your need for donations. Why? It’s a powerful way to deliver a message about the good work you do.
Use that same technique in your thank you letter— tell your donor a new story about how someone’s life was changed because of their gift.
Yes, it’s a lot of work. But think of it this way: You owe it to your donors. They’re fulfilling a need of your organization by donating money. What do they need in return? They need to feel good about their donation.
Don’t forget—The better they feel about helping your organization, the more likely they are to donate again.
Form: The form of the thank you should change based on the significance of the gift. Thank yous for larger gifts should be more personal. They should include a hand-written note and use a hand-addressed envelope and first-class mail.
They’re not the only ones who need extra attention. New donors should get something special to help move them to the all-important second gift. You might include a fact sheet or create a new donor package.
Another group that needs extra attention is the group of donors who increased their gift from the prior gift. They should get a special thank you letter geared to encouraging them to want to increase again.
Tone: Too often, thank you letters are formal to the point of being perfunctory and standoffish. Instead, they should be warm and effusive. You should go over the top when you thank your donor.
Timeliness: For the thank you letter to have any value, it must be in the hands of the donor fast!
Making your thank you letter as good as your appeal letter takes a lot of work, but it can go a long way in retaining donors, and it can help encourage donors to increase their gift. It’s a good place to invest your time.
What tips on thank you letters can you share with our readers?