The most important letter in direct mail fundraising never asks for a donation. Thank-you letters increase donor loyalty, strengthen relationships and increase your chances of receiving more gifts in the future, including major gifts and legacy gifts.
But only if you get them right.
Direct mail fundraising is about relationships, not revenue. The only way to generate sustainable income through the mail is to thank donors promptly, personally, particularly and positively.
Here is a sample donation thank-you letter.
Friday, January 16, 2006
363 Blandon Crescent
Tulsa, OK 19188
This is just a quick note, but it comes from my heart to yours as I head out the door for my flight to Bombay.
Thank you for your very kind gift of $100, which we received today. Your generosity will make an immediate difference in the lives of mothers in Calcutta. I'm going to make sure of that on this trip.
For one thing, we are going to use your gift to fund our early intervention program. Your generosity is going to help us buy the formula and fortified milk that our mothers give to their babies and toddlers. Good nutrition, as you know, is so vital in fighting off the diseases and infections that are so prevalent in Calcutta.
You can read about this exciting initiative - and your important part in it - in the upcoming issue of our newsletter, which we will mail to you in January.
Thanks again for your kindness,
[real, actual, live signature]
About this letter
Here are a few things to notice about this letter.
1. Not "Dear Friend." This letter is a personal thank you from the heart of the president to this donor. Even though the president does not know Samantha personally, he writes to her as a friend, which is to say, by name.
2. The opening sentence reveals the personality of the writer and clearly shows that this letter was written on a particular day, by a particular person, for a particular reason. Openings like this resonate with donors, who want to be acknowledged by a human being and not a computer.
3. The writer acknowledges the donor's gift by date received and amount given, specific details that make the letter personal instead of generic.
4. The writer shows in concrete, easy-to-understand ways how the donor's gift will be put to work today, changing lives and making a difference in the world. Donors need to know that their contribution, however small, accomplishes the goals of the donor in supporting your organization.
Alan Sharpe is a professional fundraising letter writer, instructor, mentor, author and newsletter publisher. Alan helps nonprofit organizations worldwide to raise funds, build relationships and retain loyal donors using cost-effective, compelling, creative fundraising letters. Receive free tips like this each week by signing up for Alan Sharpe's Fundraising Letter.