By Molly Fast 

More than a decade ago, I wrote this blog post talking about the best donation thank you letter I’ve ever received. Spoiler alert, the key points I shared were that the thank you letter left me feeling grateful I was given the chance to donate and to have an opportunity to play a small part in the event experience for my friend.  

I also shared three things you should consider when crafting the perfect thank you to your donors. Eleven years later, this advice still holds up.  

You should:   

  1. Explain why the donation is important to you. 
  2. Tell your donor about the difference their donation will make for those on the receiving end. 
  3. Educate your donor on where the funds go. 

With more wisdom and knowledge under my belt since 2012, I wanted to add to this and share a few more pointers when it comes to your post-donation thank you:  

Send a thank you.  

This isn’t a game of this or that (send a thank you note or don’t send a thank you note). In this situation, the answer is always send a thank you note. We are competing for people’s time and attention more than ever before. And in a post-Covid world, people are even more mindful of where they choose to allocate their fundraising dollars. All this is to say, do not ever give a donor a reason to not become an annual donor. Not acknowledging their donation is a very quick way to do that.  

If you have a first-time donor, tailor your thank you accordingly.  

Here’s what this could look like: Thank you for your donation to my 11th-year riding in Cycle for Survival. I am really touched that you heard what I was doing and went home that night and donated. Your support means so much to me as I couldn’t do this without my incredible supporters. And thank you for being a first-time donor! I’ll be back on the bike in 2024 for my 12th year and I’d be honored to ride on behalf of your mom, Mary, again. Thank you, for this privilege.” Doing this also gives you a perfect platform to set the stage for their support in future years.

Engage your donors in your event experience.  

How can you do this? Here’s an example: “I keep two posters by my bike as I pedal away for four hours. One lists all my donors. And the second poster is a list of the people for whom I ride. If there is anyone in your life that you’d like me to ride on behalf of, please let me know and I’d be happy to add their name(s). I read every single name while I’m riding and this intentional act of thinking of them and sending love to them/the person who submitted the name is one of the most emotional parts of the ride. It’d be my great honor to ride for those you love too.” Doing this makes it more likely that your event experience becomes meaningful not only for you, but for your donors as well. If done correctly, when event day comes around, your donors are emotionally invested beyond just donating. This is a great way to lay the groundwork for your donors to turn into annual supporters who expect to hear from you and are excited when your donation request comes through.  

By adding these three tips to what I shared in 2011, your thank you letter can be more impactful than you could possibly imagine.

I’ll close the same way I did with the original blog post: as you construct your own letter, keep in mind the power and potential you have to bring your donors along for an educated, impactful and mission-focused experience that starts and ends with the power of your thank you note.

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