How to write a thank-you letter for a donation to increase retention rates

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Rachel MillsWhite arrow icon

How to write a thank-you letter for a donation to increase retention rates

Ever noticed how expressing goodwill fosters more goodwill? 

Generosity is the backbone of all charitable giving. But once your campaign has come and gone, it's time to express your gratitude, thanking everyone who gave to your cause.

Sending a thank-you letter to donors isn't just polite — it's a good campaign strategy.

Research shows that only 25% of online donors are retained for over one year. The outlook isn't all that better for offline donations, with only 31% continuing to give after the year mark. 

Expressing your gratitude can increase donor retention, fostering a good relationship between you and your community for years to come. Below, we explain how to write a thank-you letter for donations, including what to write, which tone to use, and how to effectively express your sincere thanks after a successful campaign.

Thank-you letter for donation: Best practices to follow

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When you send a thank-you letter after your fundraising campaign, there are a few things to keep in mind. Below, we share some tips and tricks for thanking donors, including when to send your thank yous, what to write, and how to keep donors engaged.

1. Send your thank you as soon as possible ⏰

After a donation is made, it's essential to send a thank-you note as quickly as you can. Not only does this help show your appreciation, but it prevents additional solicitations to that person. Aim to send a thank you within 1-3 days following a contribution.

Now, if you're sending handwritten notes, we understand how this process can quickly become overwhelming.

Here's a pro tip: Say “thank you” twice.

Include a custom thank-you message with the receipt for every donation, so each donor is thanked automatically. Then, follow up a few days later with a handwritten note in the mail.

2. Personalize it to the individual 💁

When sending out your thank yous, try to address it to the person. Rather than use the super-formal "To whom it may concern" or generic "Dear friend," write the donor's first name (spelled correctly!) within the salutation. Then, sign it from a human being, whether it’s an event organizer or the executive director of your nonprofit. 

This is where using a CRM system for your fundraising event will come in handy. Using a CRM system — like Salesforce — you can easily look up each donor's first name, how much they donated, and other personal details, seriously cutting down on the time it takes to write your thank yous.

3. Display the positive impact they made 💓

The best part about making a charitable contribution is knowing you made a real difference in your community. So, be sure to tell your donors how much money you raised, how the funds will be used, and your plans for the future.

If you include your donor thank-you letter as a custom receipt, then the campaign may still be active when your message is sent. In that case, have a short line inviting the recipient to follow your campaign's progress on your fundraising page. Your community will be able to see you inch your way toward your fundraising goal in real-time, knowing they played a key role in it!

4. Add a personal story 👫

People make a generous donation when they personally connect with a cause. Include a short anecdote on how their generous gift made a difference in someone's life!

This may be a good opportunity to include peer-to-peer fundraising within your campaign. Each team member can share why they're connected to the cause on their social media and create personalized pages within your campaign. 

5. Invite donors to engage with you in the future 📆

To increase your donor retention rate, finish your thank-you email or note by inviting them to engage with you in the future. Invite the recipient to sign up for your monthly newsletter or follow you on social media to stay updated. Maybe you already know when your annual event will take place next year, which is the perfect opportunity to ask them to reserve a spot on their calendar!

2 customizable thank-you letter templates

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Now that you know what to include, it's time to put it into practice. Here are a couple of sample thank-you letter templates to thank your community based on real Givebutter campaigns.

Example 1: From a beneficiary

Darlington School raised $61k through independent giving in just 24 hours on Givebutter. If you're looking to thank donors on behalf of your school, your thank-you message might look like this: 

Dear Stephen, 

Thank you so much for your donation of $55. Your generous gift will bring plenty of smiles to students and teachers of Darlington School!

We are so pleased to announce that in just a single day of giving, we were able to raise $61,000. This money will be used to buy supplies and resources for our students and teachers, who have been working so hard this past year during the pandemic.

I'm actually an alumni of Darlington School myself, and my mom worked in the advancement office. I know the impact this school has on students — because I was one! — so I can't thank you enough for your contribution.

To learn more about how your contribution makes a difference in students’ and teachers’ lives, we invite you to visit DarlingtonSchool.org/GivingDay. You can also visit our Facebook page for future events.

Once again, thank you for your donation. Go Tigers! 

Best,
Julia

Example 2: From a campaign team member

The Bululu Well Project raised $7k to provide clean water to Uganda. If you were one of the many volunteers or campaign organizers who made this happen, you might find yourself writing thank yous that look like this: 

Dear Taylor, 

I just wanted to reach out and personally thank you for your donation to the Bululu Well Project. Your in-kind donation of $100 will help provide clean, safe drinking water to 1,200+ Obur Village residents. 

I am so pleased to announce that we successfully raised $7,000 to provide clean drinking water in Uganda. In fact, we already wired the funds this Wednesday, and they will begin drilling a new well shortly thereafter. Soon, the Obur Village and the Bululu Secondary School will have access to clean drinking water.

When you bring clean, safe water to a population, it directly impacts young people's ability to attend school. It even changes the health and hygiene of the community, and decreases the risk of death. I hope you know your generous gift played a significant role in this trickle-down effect.

To learn more about how your gift makes real change, I invite you to follow Call to Care Uganda. You can also find them on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. 

Once again, thank you kindly for your generosity. 

Best,
Josh
CEO of Earth2 

Thank-you letters help increase your retention rate 

​Sending out thank-you letters should be a standard practice within your fundraising campaign. As soon as a donation is made, a note should follow.

A note of appreciation fosters goodwill toward your organization and transforms first-time donors into recurring donors.

The best thank-you notes are personal, include campaign results and personal anecdotes, and encourage future relationships.

Most of all, these letters should be sent immediately. To help accomplish this, always customize a message within your donation receipt. To see how easy it is to launch a campaign and thank donors for contributing, sign up for your free Givebutter account today.

Written By

Written by
Rachel Mills
Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.