Recently I was asked if a gift acknowledgement letter should be sent monthly, quarterly, or in an annual letter summarizing all of the gifts given. The answer is none of the above!
DO WHAT MOM TAUGHT YOU
While growing up, when someone gave you something, what did your mom always make you say before she would let you enjoy that piece of candy or gum – two important words – THANK YOU!
Unfortunately, there are some organizations who still make the unforgiving error of not saying thank you to their donors. Not only is it the courteous thing to do, but it is crucial in nurturing the relationship with a donor, especially first-time donors to your organization.
SAY THANK YOU QUICKLY
People have become accustomed to quick gratification. Microwaves heat up our food quickly, fast food restaurants satisfy our hunger, and smartphones enable us to access the internet and our friends almost instantly. Thanking your donor should be quick too.
In fact, every day that passes that you don’t affirm a donor, you diminish the probability of them sending a gift back by 1 percent. This is why it is important that an organization quickly process donations and mail a thank you receipt to the donor.
If you send thank you letters monthly, then you are lowering your probability of a return receipt by 30 percent.
Instead, a thank you letter should be sent out within two days of receiving the donation. You want the donor to receive their thank you letter within a week to 10 days so he/she feels appreciated and affirmed for their gift.
A few years ago, we worked with a client to improve the speed of sending a thank you receipt letter from 27 days to within 10 days which increased their revenue by $100,000 per month!
GRACIOUSLY ASK AGAIN
There are different opinions in the fundraising world if the thank you receipt letter should ask for another gift. I believe it should.
The donor obviously believes in your organization and wants to be a part of what you are doing so give him/her the opportunity to send in another gift. But don’t make it another strong solicitation. The primary focus of the gift acknowledgement letter should be to say thank you and express appreciation for their generosity. But also it should share how their gift is helping to continue the work, how it is helping meet the need, and graciously mention that an additional gift would be helpful. A reply envelope should be included with the thank you letter.
Some organizations can attribute as much as 15 percent of their donor income back to the request made through the gift acknowledgment letter.
In summary, be sure to thank your donor, do it speedily, don’t be afraid to mention an additional gift would be helpful, and get ready to see your donor income increase!
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