Thank You Letters: Powerful and Profitable

When donors say, “the acknowledgement IS the recognition”, they are making a profound statement about what matters in their relationships with not-for-profits. And, nothing matters more to donors than thank you letters. Our research confirms that a beautifully crafted acknowledgement letter, promptly received, is all that it takes to make donors want to give again.

There is a huge difference, though, between thank you letters that fulfill the requirement of acknowledging gifts and letters that inspire donors to stay loyal [see Donor-Centered Thank You Letters Project].

In this year’s Burk Donor Survey, 40% of respondents said they had received at least one thank you letter in recent memory that they would describe as exceptional. Its warm, personal tone making the letter feel like it was written just for me was cited most often.  45% of donors said it was an outstanding thank you letter that inspired them to give again and 23% said they gave more generously because of the quality of the acknowledgement they received.

That said, great letter-writing is an art, and creating art requires original thinking and constant practice. So, when inspiration just won’t come or when you start over-thinking everything you write, don’t you wish you had a creative resource by your side?

The Donor-Centered Thank You Letter Project is that creative resource. It’s a compilation of the best letters from fundraisers who modeled their acknowledgements on donor-centered principles. Each letter is notated by me to help the authors expand their letter-writing horizons. You can’t buy this resource, but you can get it for free if your thank you letter is selected for inclusion in Volume III (deadline December 15th). More information is available [], including my popular “20 Characteristics of a Great Thank You Letter”.


  • Jessica

    I agree that getting personable with the donor when offering thanks can often lead to more thanks. Donors want to feel like they matter. An organization cant afford to not give thanks and the sad thing is stewardship is often overlooked, but on of the most important aspects. Thank you for the article reiterating this.

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