Donor-Centered Thank You Letters: Your First Step to the Next Gift

A dear friend of mine is a dedicated philanthropist, as is his wife. Both as a couple and independently, they support many charitable organizations in their quiet, yet deliberate way. While reviewing the day’s mail recently, my friend’s wife plunked her stack of letters down in her lap and, with a tone of exasperation in her voice, she remarked, “Is there only one thank you letter?”

When I first conducted research over a decade ago on the impact of thank you letters on donor loyalty and generosity, donors identified two prominent deficiencies — the time it took to receive acknowledgement letters after making gifts and the predictable nature of their content. I am happy to report that donors now say they receive far more thank you letters in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, they continue to be deflated by the content.

What Donors Say Makes Thank You Letters Superior

My research on thank you letters culminated in a list of the 20 Characteristics of Great Thank You Letters which was published in Donor-Centered Fundraising. Over the years I have had many reports from thrilled Development professionals who have re-engineered their acknowledgement letters according to these principles, raising more money and improving donor retention as a result. Many have also received immediate and very generous additional gifts from donors who were now reading something they could get excited about. One story is particularly memorable. A community hospice sent their new donor-centered thank you letter to a first-time donor who had just made a $100 contribution. The delighted donor called the organization because she “wanted to meet the person who had written such a beautiful letter”. Donor and Fundraiser fell into conversation about the Hospice and its future plans. The next day a check arrived via courier with a post-it note attached which read, For your hopes and dreams. The check was for $25,000.

Here is my list of the 20 things that make a thank you letter superior:

  1. The letter is a real letter, not a pre-printed card.
  2. It is personally addressed.
  3. It has a personal salutation (no “dear donor” or “dear friend”).
  4. It is personally signed.
  5. It is personally signed by someone from the highest ranks of the organization
  6. It makes specific reference to the intended use of funds.
  7. It indicates approximately when the donor will receive an update on the program being funded.
  8. It includes the name and phone number of a staff person whom the donor can contact at any time or an invitation to contact the writer directly.
  9. It does not ask for another gift.
  10. It does not ask the donor to do anything (like complete an enclosed survey, for example.)
  11. It acknowledges the donor’s past giving, where applicable.
  12. It contains no spelling or grammatical errors.
  13. It has an overall “can do”, positive tone as opposed to a hand wringing one.
  14. It communicates the excitement, gratitude and inner warmth of the writer.
  15. It grabs the reader’s attention in the opening sentence.
  16. It speaks directly to the donor.
  17. It does not continue to “sell”.
  18. It is concise – no more than two short paragraphs long.
  19. It is received by the donor promptly.
  20. Plus, in some circumstances, the letter is handwritten.

A Growing Resource as Precious as Gold

At the request of colleagues who understand the power of compelling communications, I continue to compile a catalog of the best examples of Donor-Centered Thank You Letters which is distributed to everyone whose entry is included. We are now accepting submissions for the 3rd edition of our Donor-Centered Thank You Letters Project. If you have adapted one or more thank you letters according to the twenty donor-centered principles above or if you would like to do so now, I would love to receive a sample of your best.

In the meantime, don’t hesitate to post a comment if you have any questions about something on that list of twenty characteristics. Here is a clue that will lead to greatness —  more than 80% of thank you letters start with Thank you for your generous gift of… or its first cousin, On behalf of the Board of Directors, thank you for your generous gift of…

I’m counting on you to be so much more brilliant than that.

Donor-Centered Thank You Letters Submissions

Send your Donor-Centered Thank-You letters to:  dcfthankyou@cygnusresearch.net

All letters chosen for publication will be edited to preserve anonymity. Here is an example from the 2012 Edition of the Donor-Centered Thank You Letters Project.

For more information on the project, visit:  http://www.cygresearch.com/DCF-TY/

SAMPLES

 

Showing 37 comments
  • Kirk Mortensen
    Reply

    Penelope,

    I love these 20 characteristics. One thing that has come up at my organization as we re-write our letters is how to handle tax information. There are certain requirement in US law regarding the substation of donations for donors to claim tax-deductions, especially if any good/services are provided in exchange for the donation (as with fundraising events, for example). There are many ways of doing this that we’ve thought of, including sending a tax receipt under separate cover (immediately or at the end of the year), as a separate page in the same envelope, or in very small print at the bottom of the thank-you letter. Any advice on these or other ways of doing it?

    Thanks!

    • Penelope Burk
      Reply

      Kirk,
      You are right in suspecting that placement of the tax receipt information impacts the quality of the letter. It is important that donors get that IRS or CCRA (for Canadian donors) acknowledgement along with the thank you letter but not inserted into the body of the narrative you have taken so much effort to craft. It’s wording is cold and official and can ruin all your attempts to write something that makes donors feel good. The best way to handle this is to enclose the tax receipt as a separate piece of paper, one-third the size of a standard letter and folded inside the letter as you would when enclosing a check. You should avoid stapling it to the letter. Also, placing this copy below the signature deters from your letter and using a design with a perforated section at the bottom turns your beautiful letter into something that looks like an advertising supplement. This may seem awfully picky, but it matters. Donors keep letters they love, reading them again and again. To maximize the benefit, you should strive for both the content and the visual experience to be exemplary.
      -Penelope

  • Jackie
    Reply

    We’re a foundation and make grants to other charities, so we won’t know specifically what funds will be used for until we review grant applications. The funds have a general or specific purpose depending on the fund, but we won’t know the specific details until grants are awarded.

    Here’s what I’m thinking of doing…let me know what you think. I think this scenario could almost apply to anyone, but I guess it depends on whether or not you send tax receipts all at the end of the year or when a donation is received.

    Thank you letter -sent, ideally within two days of receiving a donation. In addition the points above, telling the donor when we will let them know how their gift made an impact but that also they will receive their tax receipt in January 2012.

    Tax Receipt – sent January 2012. This looks just like our regular letter head but is perforated about 1/3 of the way down. The top piece thanks the donor for their support and gives specific details on how their gift made an impact and makes a quick reference that their tax receipt is below. The bottom piece has all the relevant tax information.

    • Penelope Burk
      Reply

      Dear Jackie:

      I like your idea for its creativity and for your thoughtful attempt to increase attention paid to results achieved with donations by enclosing the tax receipt in a later mailing. There are some drawbacks we have found in our research, but you may feel they are not significant enough to prevent you from testing your concept. Here is the information for what it’s worth:

      • On the issue of sending tax receipts separately from thank you letters, I have had some negative comments about that from donors, especially donors whose year-end for tax purposes is not December 31st. We have also had critical comments from some donors about having to chase up organizations they have supported to get their receipt. For donors who support several not-for-profits, they need to keep on top of which ones send the receipt as soon as a gift is received and which ones wait till year-end. It adds another layer of administration to their philanthropy, something that not-for-profits may not fully appreciate.

      • Since getting information on gift impact is the thing that donors say they want the most but get the least, that information will be noticed whether or not the receipt is also enclosed – in most cases. The exception concerns charitable organizations that solicit prolifically. Donors often mistake information mailings for another solicitation and don’t open the envelope.

      Regarding salutation, donors’ opinions vary and, statistically, the younger the donor the more comfortable they are with being addressed by their first name. However, I tend to err on the side of caution and my rule is: address donors by their last names until invited to call them by their first names. Greeting someone by their last name is always respectful, if formal, whereas using donors’ first names before being invited is sometimes interpreted as presumptuous. I expect opinions among fundraisers vary widely on this issue.

      – Penelope

  • Jackie
    Reply

    On another note, do you prefer formal (Mr. & Ms.) salutaions or first name?

  • Ali
    Reply

    For names, I always refer to Mr. or Mrs. X. If they are a donor I feel that I have enough of a relationship to call by their first name, I write “Bob” in beside the printed name in pen with an extra personal note. It gives that extra personal touch without being over-familiar as a rule.

  • Cathy
    Reply

    Hi Penelope: as I said in a recent Linked-in conversation, I am a great devotee of yours & Donor-Centered Fundraising. My book is a rainbow of sticky flags because I found so much substance of value and I’ve incorporated into my work, so thank you! I’m sure you address this but wonder if you could reiterate and/or update your thoughts about WHO signs acknowledgement letters and respond to the fairly standard practice of assigning signers according to gift level? Clearly, it isn’t possible for the CEO of large orgs to personally sign every $25 donation letter and for some orgs, that CEO-worthy gift level can go as high as a 4-figure donation. With today’s technology, is it ok for the machine-generated CEO signature if it looks “real”? Or to have an internal policy that the CEO’s name can be signed by another person with the full approval of the CEO? This is probably too specific so the basic question would circle-back to: what’s the research on donors perception about who is acknowledging their gift & how impactful is that in their decision to renew their support? Thanks! Cathy

    • Penelope Burk
      Reply

      Cathy, fundraisers understandably focus on the volume of letters to be signed and the likelihood that influential leaders like the CEO won’t have the time to sign them all. This is one of many issues that require fundraisers to stop thinking about volume and focus instead on quality. For NFPs with many donors, it will not be possible to have all letters signed quickly by someone in a position of authority. At the same time, handing a busy leader hundreds or thousands of letters to sign means that the job won’t get done and it will be seen as something no one wants to do.

      Give your CEO, your Board members, and other prominent representatives (Deans, Physicians, etc.) only a small number of letters (25 perhaps?) and ask them to be sure to look at the donor’s name on each letter. Sooner or later, one of your reps will recognize a donor he/she knows, and now you will have a new opportunity for a personal letter that acknowledges that existing relationship.

      Capital Campaigns prove every day that it doesn’t take thousands or hundreds of thousands of donors to reach mind-boggling goals. With 95% of campaign revenue coming from 5% of donors, fundraisers know that it’s all about building relationships, and that includes taking advantage of the connections that your top leadership already has but seldom uses. You can see, then, why having someone else sign for the CEO is counter-productive. The objective of letters being “personally signed by a NFP leader” is that they bring your top staff and volunteers into fundraising in a practical, non-threatening and yet highly profitable way.

  • Amy
    Reply

    Dear Penelope,

    I’m hoping you can clarify the thank you note/receipt combo idea versus a separate notes and receipts. Are you talking about major donors or large gifts? We are sending a letter from our VP with a separate receipt to donors of $1000 or more to give them an extra touch of stewardship. Those below $1000 (the marjority would be $1-$99) would get a hand-signed letter with attached receipt at the bottom. I know your earlier comment stated not to do this, but for a lower-level donor, and with a high-volume, we thought this would be best practice (and “greenest”) for us. Please advise.

    Thank you.

    • Penelope Burk
      Reply

      Your “green” approach is laudable, but having a tear-off receipt at the bottom of gift acknowledgement correspondence turns it into a form letter and detracts from the effort you make to compose a beautiful, personal expression of your gratitude. See if you can come up with a way to enclose the tax receipt as a separate piece along with the letter without it adding to your cost. Or, even better, understand that uncompromising thank you letters sustain loyalty and inspire donors to make more/more generous gifts. They make money, but only if you put your best foot forward. Think investment/ return rather than only considering cost in isolation of what you are trying to achieve by producing a better product.

  • Heather
    Reply

    In response to Cathy, I have been a CEO for several not-for-profits, including a larger sized United Way. At the latter, I personally signed every thank you letter and every charitable receipt that went out, no matter how small the donation – and there were 1000s. I often took them home at night to sign. On every donation over a certain dollar value,I included a personal note at the bottom. Often I would write a short note on all my letters, even though it took time, or I would cross out the Mr./Ms and put in a handwritten first name. Nothing is more important than the thank you. If a donor can take time to sign the cheque, I can take time to say thank you! As the senior exec, it gave me a personal connection to my donors and a feeling of gratitude that is missing when donors are just numbers on a spreadsheet.

  • Lindsay
    Reply

    Dear Penelope,

    I am the new ED for a rare disease group. I would like to establish a protocol for thanking donors. I wonder if you recommend doing different things for different levels. For example, all receive a letter, but above $1,000 receive an additional handwritten note from the Chairman, and above $5,000 receive a phone call from the chairman… above $10,000 warrants a visit. Any advice on implementing this and should I be the one signing the letters? Right now, it is my assistant who signs the letters, but she is a mother who has lost a child to this disease and has a living child who suffers from the disease (though I’m not sure this is mentioned in the current letter!). Is it best to come from her as the mother or from me as the ED? Thank you!

    • Penelope Burk
      Reply

      I know this is a hard concept for fundraisers to grasp because you have had it hammered into your heads that donors who give big should be treated better than donors who don’t. But this makes fundraising passive when it should be active. Active fundraising assumes that all donors could give more than they are giving now (which our ongoing research keeps proving to be true); and, in order to encourage that higher level giving, fundraisers need to inspire donors through truly meaningful thank you letters and calls that show your gratitude, among other things. If you wait for a donor to give big before telling him how much you appreciate his efforts, most supporters will never get to that state of giving generously within their own means.

      You asked donors to give; they responded. Now it’s your turn again to show them your very best and inspire them to go higher the next time. That is proactive fundraising and it is also “donor-centered”.

      Regarding your assistant signing letters, I think you have answered your own question. If donors do not know her connection with the disease, her signature will not hold any special meaning. It would be better if you or a board member signed letters. However, if your assistant is willing, do tell her story in a separate communication to donors (newsletter, for example).

  • Jenny
    Reply

    Thanks for the post! I think people really overlook the power of Thanking your donors. I recently just received an influx of donations for my organization and will definitely be using your tips. Many thing you highlighted can be done so easily yet it’s amazing how many people/organizations don’t utilize those tools.

  • Charlie Pitts
    Reply

    I am the president of a very small charitable foundation supporting a local Illinois Department of Agriculture experimental farm through volunteers. We are in the process of revitalizing the Foundation and are beginning to seek donations and members. In searching for sample thank you letters I happened onto your site – and was deeply moved by the philosophy and, well, love expressed in how to write a great thank you letter. I now see that – particularly as small as we are – it would be best to just write each letter uniquely and from the heart. Thank you for crystallizing an thoughts and demonstrating an approach that will express how individually important each volunteer is and how grateful we are for each one’s contributions.

  • Sara
    Reply

    I love what you say about thank you letters. I’m wondering though, what is prompt “19.It is received by the donor promptly”? We are planning for an event that doesn’t happen for a couple of months, but are starting to collect donations for it now. Would it be best to send the letters as we get the donations, or after the event when we can tell them how the people responded to their gifts?

    • Penelope Burk
      Reply

      You have two opportunities here. Thank the donor immediately upon receiving his/her gift. After the event, send a follow up communication that lets donors know how the event turned out, how much money you made and, most important, what you will do (in specific and measurable terms) with the funds you have raised.

  • Garland Draper
    Reply

    Thank you for your great ideas on donor thank you letters.
    One thing we struggle with in our non-profit is the timeliness of the thank you letter…IOW, how prompt should they be? Our letters meeting all the criteria abouve (customized, signed by our ED, personal notes, etc. We try to send ours out within 7 – 14 calendar days of receiving the donation. Do you think changing the metric to 4 calendar days would be significant in terms of pleasing the donor? Not sure this is possible giving our staff constraints, but I thought it was worthwhile to ask the question.

    • Penelope Burk
      Reply

      When we conducted our original research, it was taking over a month on average for donors to receive thank you letters from not-for-profits they supported. Their definition of prompt, at the time, was receiving a thank you letter within two weeks of the date they issued the gift. For direct mail where the gift and the thank you letter take time to travel to and from your organization, you are left with around 3-4 business days to prepare and issue your letter.

      Between our original research in 2002 and our latest research on this issue (2014), not-for-profits have made a significant improvement in the time it takes to issue acknowledgements and donors have noticed. Our survey respondents now say that the majority of not-for-profits now meet that two-week delivery timeframe. But, now that timeliness is the standard, those not-for-profits who don’t meet the two-week window stand out for their inefficiency and are at risk of losing donors. So, my advice is make the effort to issue thank you letters in a timely manner because doing so contributes to repeat and more generous giving.

  • Judy
    Reply

    Any advice for late thank you letters and how would you open the letter, with an apology or still something unique? For example…”As they say it’s never too late to say your sorry, it’s never too late to say thank you as well”!

    If you think this is ok, then would I follow with an apology, and an explanation, just one or the other, both???
    I ‘m thinking not, but feel very embarrassed that these letters are going out so late.
    Looking forward to your response. Thank you!

    Judy

    • Penelope Burk
      Reply

      Do not apologize; it serves only to draw attention to the fact that thank you letters are going out late. But, you can partly compensate for tardiness with an extraordinarily good letter that still makes them glad that they gave…even if they cannot remember when! Then, next time, make both content and timing work in your favor so that you can maximize the benefit of acknowledgement letters – which is better renewal and higher gift value the next time you ask your donors to give.

  • Jamie Segar
    Reply

    After 32 years since establishing our annual fund we are looking to increase our Founder’s level from $1,000 to $2,000. I’m looking for suggestions to gently communicate this message in the proper way to our donors. Any suggestions would be helpful.

    • Penelope Burk
      Reply

      Jamie, this response is likely not what you are expecting. A sudden change in historical gift or gift club levels is just one of many things about this kind of recognition that creates problems and risks alienating donors when the purpose of recognition is supposed to be enhancing relationships. All our research with donors on whether or not gift clubs or levels contribute to retention and inspire higher gift values concludes that they do not. Today, 92% of donors say this form of recognition has no influence and a mere 4% say gift clubs are influential in certain circumstances. Fundraisers seldom consider another problem that comes into play with graded donor recognition. Some donors tell us they were prepared to give more until they saw that they could get their name into an attractive category for less money and then downgraded their contribution.

      Creating and maintaining these levels or societies takes precious professional staff time and financial resources. My recommendation is to do away with this kind of recognition and apply the saved time and money into communicating measurable results to donors on what you are accomplishing with their gifts. This is what donors have told us is very influential. It inspires them to stay longer and give more generously, the two measures that make your fundraising operation more profitable.

      Penelope Burk

  • Andrew
    Reply

    Loved the post! I think that promptness is a major key to retaining donors after a contribution, but personalization is equally if not more important. Nothing beats a handwritten card, but depending on your size and time constraints it can prove to be inefficient. There are a few sites now that you can personalize and design your own cards that they will mail for you and it looks identical to handwritten ones because you can submit your own handwriting or choose from hundreds of fonts. I think the cheapest and easiest is called Thankster. I also agree that it is important not to ask for another gift or donation with the thank you letter as you want to establish friendly correspondence. Thanks for sharing your approach.

  • Liesel
    Reply

    We’re struggling with the question of handwritten notes versus a printed letter signed by someone on the Board. There are those who think only unique cards with handwritten notes inside are the way to go, but others think that a personalized letter would be more time- and cost-effective.

    We are a small non–profit with no small full-time staff, and we struggle to write all notes by hand. Furthermore, one of our Board Members is pressuring for a 24-hour turnaround time, which is just not feasible given that we all have different tasks as well as our day jobs.
    So, would a a week to two weeks be acceptable to respond, and with a letter rather than a note card?
    Thanks!

    • Penelope Burk
      Reply

      I think you/your Board may be getting too bogged down in the process which is holding everyone back from actually capitalizing on the opportunity. It is the content of your thank you letter that is most important, regardless of whether it is hand-written or printed on your letterhead or on thank you note stationery. You are in good company with virtually all not-for-profits who are either so short-staffed or have so many donors that they cannot address them all at once. Do not worry about that. Set an objective which is to send a beautiful thank you note, in whatever form, to as many donors as you can reasonably handle while getting those notes out in a timely fashion.

      As for turnaround time: donors say that if they receive your thank you letter within two weeks of the date they made the commitment to give (said yes over the phone; sent you a check in the mail, etc.), then they consider that to be prompt. Giving time for the gift traveling to you and your thank you letter travelling back to the donor, that tells you how much time you have internally to adhere to donors’ definition of timeliness.

      Everyone wants to do the right thing by donors, and that’s wonderful. But sometimes we are over-think it to the point that nothing gets launched. You and your board can stop worrying so much; your donors will be grateful for the obvious care and attention you are showing. Make sure that comes through in the quality of the thank you letter you write and everything will turn out well.

  • Marilyn
    Reply

    I am newly elected president for a choral group. Our conductor retired (after 41 years) and we have a new conductor. I want to send a hand-written note (and envelope) to the people who donate to our organization. I also know that we need to send a donor acknowledgement letter. I’m struggling to figure to how to best do this. Should I send a small thank you note card in the same envelope with a donor acknowledgement letter? Should we print the legal tax receipt information on the bottom of the letter and handwrite the rest? Should the thank you note and donor acknowledgment be sent separately? Thanks!

    • Penelope Burk
      Reply

      You have a wonderful opportunity to make a rare connection with your donors from the top of your choral group. Our research continually finds that leadership volunteers (board members) and top staff including artistic directors, physicians, deans, performers, etc. have unusual influence on donors. Just the smallest acknowledgement from one of these important people is enough to sustain a donor’s interest for a long time and inspire many to give more generously.

      Because you have a new conductor, I would suggest that you draft something that would go to donors from this person, rather than from you. It should have a picture of your new conductor on it and contain a brief thank you to donors “for all you have done to date to make this wonderful choir a reality” (or some such sentiment.) It should be short – just a note size – expressing the new conductor’s delight at leading the choir, acknowledging donors’ support, and looking forward to seeing them at the next performance, perhaps.

      It appears from your message that it is also time to acknowledge recent contributions from some or all of your donors. Make this a separate thing; craft a beautiful thank you letter to be signed from someone on the board or from a member of your choir, perhaps.

      Two great opportunities for you to capitalize on!!

  • Sara
    Reply

    We have been receiving funds from our donors for about 10 years and I don’t believe a thank you letter has ever been sent out. I was recently brought on to take over the fundraising aspect of the organization and step #1 is to send out a thank you letter asap.
    My question is – we have about 100 donors who donate monthly. Is sending out a letter annually to those donors enough? (We are also starting to implement a monthly newsletter, so they won’t be left hanging and wondering where their money is going…)

    • Penelope Burk
      Reply

      Regarding your monthly donors, your approach is correct. They should only require an official thank you letter and receipt once a year, assuming their gifts are coming to you automatically as charges to their credit cards or debits from their bank accounts. However, that thank you should not be your only communication. Be sure to include them in information mailings, especially ones that contain updates on what your organization is accomplishing with the gifts that donors contribute.

  • Nick
    Reply

    Wonderful piece! I’m currently re-working our donor letter and having trouble “communicating measurable results to donors.” We currently offer a large music festival in the summer and educational programs in the spring. It is hard to determine exactly what the $100 donation will cover (since artists, teachers, equipment, etc. all costs above our median donation). Am I just not looking at this in the right way? Thank you!

    • Penelope Burk
      Reply

      The key to providing measurable results to all donors, regardless of how long they have been giving or the value of their most recent gift, is in looking at your operating budget (not fundraising budget but the budget for your entire not-for-profit) in a cost-centered manner. This means taking a budget that lists expenses in a typical way — salaries, benefits, rent, utilities, travel, etc. and re-allocating those costs to the programs and services that you run. So, for example, in a budget by cost center, the salary of your CEO would be apportioned across the various programs and services that you deliver. The same goes for all other expenses in your organization. Now you have a budget that truly reflects the business that you are in. To use your example, a donor who gives $100 would be contributing to one of the programs and services that you operate and the entire budget for that program would be $X. Additional funds come from other philanthropic donors and sources of revenue such as government grants, product sales, fees, etc. You are right in assuming that a single donor’s $100 gift cannot do a meaningful job on its own to move a program forward and achieve measurable results, but it can when combined with other donors’ contributions. Focusing asks on one program or service at a time allows donors & potential donors to visualize exactly what the money is for, making your appeal more compelling and increasing the likelihood that donors will give again after your report to them what you accomplished in that program since they gave.

      More information on the benefits of restricted over unrestricted fundraising is contained in my book, Donor-Centered Leadership, and for a living example of the financial benefits of restricted giving (which I prefer to call “assigned” or “designated” giving), see another of my blog posts here: http://www.cygresearch.com/burksblog/donor-centered-fundraising/restricted-unrestricted-giving-162/

  • Jay
    Reply

    Help! We receive a great deal of funds allocated to whatever area is in greatest need. Donations go into our general account, and it’s impossible for us to see exactly where any specific donor’s money is spent. How can we write a meaningful thank you and steward these gifts appropriately without giving specifics?

    • Penelope Burk
      Reply

      All our research and testing has confirmed that the best possible ask (i.e., the one that raises the most money) is a designated or specific ask, not one that asks donors to give to the organization as a whole. If your fundraising campaign has been non-specific, the second best solution is to designate gifts to an agreed priority program or service as soon as they are received. This is a program that leadership (board/CEO) have identified as a strategic priority, implying of course that your NFP has a strategic plan in place for programs and services.

      If you are receiving significant contributions to “area of greatest need”, then I recommend that you do not list that as a giving option on your website or in your campaign because it actually tells donors little about why you are raising money. If you want them to give to your area of greatest need, then you must know what that greatest need is (or someone must); otherwise, it calls into question the need for fundraising in the first place.

      Non-specific asks or shopping lists of everything your organization does are less effective cases and, consequently, raise less money. A specific, compelling program or project focuses’ donors’ attention and allows you, the fundraiser, to sell your objective with a strong intellectual and emotional case.

pingbacks / trackbacks
  • […] Penelope Burke posted on her blog the top 20 things to do when thanking donors. Some of the easiest, but most important things she said to do is to have the letter personally signed by the highest person in your organization. Include contact info, speaks to the donor but does not “sell” the organization. […]

  • […] Burk’s classic 20 things that make a thank you letter superior and donor-centered, including not asking for another gift and or asking the donor to take any additional actions at […]

  • […] of trusted fundraisers point to the importance of thank you letters. Penelope Burk says that they are the first step to a next gift. Katya Andresen weighs in. Erica Mills has advice. […]

Leave a Comment

Recent Posts
Burk Donor Survey

Available Fall 2018

Subscribe to our mailing list to receive a notification when the Report is available.