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7 Thank You for Donation Letter Tips For 2019 & Beyond (free “Thank You” graphic templates included)

by | Dec 19, 2018 | Fundraising, Nonprofit

“Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.”                                       

Randy Pausch

Being appreciated is one of the things that motivates us in life. When people appreciate our help, our involvement, time, or money we know people need and value us, and we are encouraged to continue doing more.

Saying “thank you” is an easy, yet powerful way to show your appreciation. Saying “thank you” to your donors is your most important and simple way of expressing gratitude for their contributions and a sign that they’re being recognized.

Wondering when to send a confirmation message or how frequently to send your thank you letters? Should you make it handwritten or printed?

Here is an overview of the most important elements and things you should know and care about when it comes to writing and sending thank you for donation letters.

You’ll also find a bundle of Free “Thank You” Graphic Templates, which you can download for free and customize in Photoshop.

Don’t let your donors wait too much

Email a quick thank you letter within 24-48 hours of the interaction. Include a confirmation of their donation for tax purposes. You can have these confirmations automated if you manage a large database. Don’t let your donors wonder if you received the donation, or doubt it’s valuable for the organization.

Follow up with a personal thank you

Depending on your organization’s resources, send a printed letter for donations greater than a certain amount and include a personal note from your Executive Director or a handwritten letter, hand-signed by your ED or Chief Development Officer. For tech-savvy donors and donations below a certain amount, follow up with a typed letter.

Define what is a major gift or donation for your organization

Is it $100? $5,000? $50,000? Or 500,000?

Defining this will help you manage your limited resources: your ED, your board members and staff time. Then decide how to thank your major donors – make thank you calls, send handwritten cards, birthday cards, invites to your office or events you’re hosting. The point is to decide on any activities and personal outreach your organization can manage, and make them part of your communication with donors.

Segment your donors and have a custom approach

You should talk with your team on how to thank big and longtime donors, and then also define a strategy for thanking new and returning donors.

For monthly donors – acknowledge their impact with a mailed “thank you” letter as soon as the first donation comes in. Let them know that in January, for example, you will send an official end-of-the-year summary letter acknowledging all their gifts, for tax purposes, check if that is OK with them or ask if they need a monthly receipt. No need to mail monthly thank you letters unless you’re asked to, but you can surely get in touch with them monthly or once a quarter.

Best would be to make these donors part of your email campaigns. Filter your email list and create a segment with monthly donors only. Then think of an email communication strategy for recurring donors. Choose a few dates to send special emails – where you show how the funds are being used, the impact they are making and the gratitude you have for them.

Use different touch points to connect with your donors throughout the year

Call them when they make their first donation, then twice per year or quarterly, go visit them or invite for lunch – again depending on how often you’ve decided to connect with them based on their contributions, loyalty, and the resources at your disposal.

Do not ignore small donations

Your board may not have the time to thank all your donors personally, but you can come up with creative ideas to thank them all with little effort.

One way to do it is to create a video and send a video email to your donor list on Thanksgiving or at the end of the year, or even better don’t wait for a special event – surprise your donors with a thank you video when they are not bombarded with emails from other companies and yours has a chance to stand out. Don’t worry about video quality – find the team member with the best phone camera and Instagram feed, or borrow a digital camera, and create the video with your own resources. Your supporters will appreciate the gesture, plus they know where your money goes.

The video can be a personal thank you from your ED, your board or a compilation of short thank you videos from people you help. You can upload it to your Youtube channel and set it as private so that only those you grant access to it can see it – that way it stays more special.

Tip #1: There’s an app called Leap Second, it captures one-second videos that you can stitch together to form a mini montage. You can take one-second videos of your team, your office, people and causes you’re helping and share it on social media.

As an alternative to the video, you can create a text based newsletter and send it out to your list.

Tip #2:  If you’re just starting with email marketing or have a small list you can use Mailchimp, it’s free for a list of up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month. They also offer a 15% discount to nonprofits and charities for paid plans.

source: Mailchimp

As promised, we created a bundle of Free “Thank You” Graphic Templates, which you can download for free, customize in Photoshop by adding your logo, fonts, images and express your gratitude by using eye-catching graphics in your emails and social media posts.

What should a thank you letter include?

The content of a thank you for donation letter is as important as the timing. So make sure you include the following:

  • Personal donor details – the name of your donor, the donation amount, and date of the donation – to make the letter about the donor, more human and less automated
  • Use simple words, short paragraphs to get the human-to-human approach as if you are having a face to face conversation
  • A little story of how someone benefited from their contribution, or what it helped you accomplish
  • Don’t make it sound as if you’re reporting to them, it’s not a report – but it’s good to include some specific details about the impact of the donation. For example, if you’re helping homeless people say how many you got to help or tell a story about how you helped a certain person or animal, giving all the credits to the donor
  • Include some photos or video if possible, for a more personal/emotional touch
  • Emphasize how valuable their support is for you and the organization
  • Think of why you are doing what you’re doing, and how important is to find people as passionate about it as you are. Then try to express your appreciation in a phrase or two, speak from the heart
  • A receipt for the donation (letter of acknowledgment) for donations of more than $250 to be claimed as tax-deductible donations

You can send 2 separate letters – a thank you letter and an acknowledgment letter containing the end-year donation summary or a 2-in-1 letter. If you prefer the last option, you can add a paragraph at the bottom of the thank you letter, after the signature, that will serve as a tax receipt.

Here is an example of text that you can use:

This letter serves as a tax receipt for your records . _____________ is a 501(c)3 organization with tax identification number _______________. No goods or services were provided in exchange for this contribution.


Follow the steps described above when handling your thank you letters.

Timing, personalized content and an attitude of gratitude are the essential elements you should care about when it comes to writing and sending thank you letter to your donors.

Always, when possible, think outside of the box. Use your creativity and insights you have about your donors to make your ‘thank you’ stand out.


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