Donors want, nay, deserve to be thanked for their support. How you thank them can result in future decisions to support your organisation.
A stock standard thank you letter will be received, read and most likely binned, with only the receipt being retained for tax purposes.
But a thank you letter that makes a donor feel that they are important, an individual (not just a number), can make a donor stay longer and has the potential to gain additional, higher value support at a future date. It could also result in the acquisition of new donors through the letter being shown to others.
Donors don’t expect, and you can’t sit and write a personalised letter for each donor, but you can make it ”personal”.
Your donor database should be able to capture key information, the basics we know (name, address, email), but are you also capturing other information that can assist you in communicating with donors?
If you receive a donation, or communication from a donor and there’s something that could help you with future communication, are you keeping this on your system?
Maybe a donor mentioned something in a communication about their family, why the support you, perhaps they mentioned a milestone in their life, or that they had recently moved.
All of this should be ”captured” and where approriate used in future communications. Yes, it seems a little bit big brother-ish, and some people may not like it, you can always delete the information (in fact you have to if requested).
But imagine a donor receiving a personalised thank you, yes, your form letter, but with reference to something they have said previously, perhaps you refer to their recent move.
Supporter letters, whether a thank you or an update of work being done; needn’t be all corporate, there’s no reason why you can’t be a little more casual, conversational in them. How about adding some wit to them.
We all tend to end a thank you letter or other communication with ”we look forward to your continued support” – yes, we do look forward to it, but what if we ended with something more casual, like; ”give us a call or send us a note if you need an update on what we’ve been doing”.
I’ve used a similar ending to a donor letter and have had donors contact saying thank you and, yes asking if the organisation had done anything since their last donation was received, how their money had been used. The donors felt that they were part of the organisation, that they had a relationship beyond bank accounts.
One important thing, your thank you letter comes from you, not the CEO, not the Board, but you an individual.
And lastly, do you know why your donor is supporting you? If you don’t ask in the thank you letter, only ask the once tho, but do ask. This is valuable information and again helps build the relationship.