Did you ever sit down to write a batch of thank-you letters and realize, “I don’t know who half of these people are”?
If you’ve gotten married recently, you might know what I mean. There are all those gifts from people who are friends of your parents. You might know them by name…or not. You might recognize their faces…or not.
But they wished you well and sent you a gift.
So you want to thank them. You want to appreciate their time, effort, and expense. But you end up writing a dozen, or two dozen, or a hundred letters that all sound the same. “Why am I doing this?” you think. “Will it make a difference to this person anyway?” And what should be a joy becomes a tiresome duty.
It’s a sad situation. It’s a situation that too many nonprofits find themselves in when they sit down to write thank-you letters to donors.
And it doesn’t have to be that way.
The 3 Things You Need to Write a Great TY
You can make writing a thank-you letter a joy if you prepare in advance. Here are the three things you need to have on hand before you write your TY (or record it on video).
At the very least, you should know:
- Whether you are thanking a new donor or a loyal supporter
- How long they’ve been giving to your organization
- When they last gave
- If the current gift is a big increase (or decrease) compared to previous gifts
Any donor database worth the name will make it easy for you to find out all these things at a moment’s notice. Use them! Send a different thank-you letter to first-time donors than you do to your most loyal friends–and give your renewing donors the sense that you know about and appreciate every gift they’ve made.
The more you know about your donors as individuals, the better prepared you will be to thank them in a personal and genuine way. Make a point of finding out:
- What they like to be called (title and full name, first name, other?)
- What they’re interested in (besides your organization)
- What programs or services they care about (within your organization)
- Who they know, and who knows them, on your staff and Board
This will take a little bit of extra investigation–but it’s worth it. You only see those wedding guests once in a while. You want to see gifts from those donors at least once a year!
If you work for a nonprofit organization and you’re sending out a thank-you letter that sounds like a tax receipt, stop!
Find your most memorable story. Put it in your thank-you letter.
Why should you include a great story in your TY? Because then, people will thank you for your thank-you. They’ll remember your story. And they’ll give to you again.
How should you find that story? The Story Telling Nonprofit tells you how, in four simple steps.
When should you find and collect that story? Start now! You can set up a story bank for everyone in your organization to use. That way, when it’s time to write those thank-you letters, you will have the greatest tales to tell, right there at your fingertips.
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