If you follow me on twitter, you might have seen this tweet:


For me, that really was a giant leap backwards (I wrote about this before). The reasoning is that it takes too much time (for between 5 and 20 letters per day). I believe a gift from a donor represents their own effort to change the world. A vote of confidence in our efforts to effect that change. I believe donors should know and feel that we care – are delighted, even – to have received their gift.

I believe thank you letters should be: about the donor, well-written (it is an art), authentic (from the heart), personalized (are you addressing them correctly?) and signed. And that they are thanked again and again in little ways. (More tips here and here.)

Some of you might say, “We get 400 gifts a day! It is impossible for anyone to actually sign every letter.” Of course, and I hope you are endeavoring to honor your donors’ desire to connect to your charity in the responses you provide, even if the acknowledgements are automated (auto-responsive, auto-generated, auto-signed).

Remember that creating a process removes an opportunity to connect to your donor and for you donor to connect with your organization. [Think of most of the mail your receive which is also not signed by a person – offers for credit cards, notices from local or national politicians, discounts on pizza or flyers for gutter cleaning. Is this the low-bar cohort you wish to emulate with your thank yous? But I digress…]


Here is what the letters used to look like:

Our process (in a small fundraising office) was that I would review the letters online first, then the letters and tax receipts (I’m in Canada, where tax receipts are issued when a charitable gift is made) were matched and presented for signature.

Sure, maybe they aren’t the best or most creative letters (that’s another post). But I liked to note whether this is a first gift, new membership, long-time donor, etc. And the donor would know someone signed the letter.

And now….


How do you ensure that your donors see that their gifts and participation in your work are valued?

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