For anyone raised with an Emily Post–reading and etiquette-loving parent, you know that it is obligatory to send thank you letters whenever you receive a gift. If you’ve really been indoctrinated, then sending thank you notes in your personal life is probably an impulse already.
A donation to your nonprofit organization is no different than receiving a candle for the holidays or a gift card on your birthday: Sending a thank you email is the time-honored, polite, and gracious way to respond.
Unlike hand-written notes to your Grandma, donor thank you emails can — and should — be automated to save your team time during the busy giving season. Even after sending tailored fundraising emails, it is imperative to thank donors with just as much care and warmth. How does one do that without the email turning robotic and impersonal? Below are 7 best practices for donor thank you letters that would make Emily proud.
1. “Send from” a top person
Use the name of a top, preferably well-known, person at your organization as the sender’s name. Include the organization name as well for double recognition. For example, “George Weiner from Whole Whale.”
People respond to seeing human names in their inboxes, especially if that name is notable. They will also be primed to look at messages from your organization since they just took the big step of donating to your cause. Don’t forget to include an actual signature from this person at the end of the email for a personal touch.
2. Say “thank you” in the subject line
With these two simple words you’re already off to a good start! And it clearly states that, when recipients click on the subject line, they will open up a thank you email.
3. Use personalized merge tags
Donation forms require donors to include their names, so you will have this information. Use merge tags or variable tags (depending on your email marketing service) to insert a donor’s first name into the email. For example starting with “Dear Turtle” or “Thank you, Turtle.”
4. Make the donor feel like part of the team
Put the fundraising onus on the donor. Use “you” and “your” throughout the email. Remind them that they helped raise the money and they are a part of the community.
5. Illustrate impact
Show how valuable their donation was by explaining the impact you will be able to drive. How will this donation contribute to solving X problem? What people, animals, or plant life will that money be supporting? Include visuals (a video or an image) of the what will be supported to make the impact feel tangible. Also, include statistics:When applicable, use numbers to show how your organization reached its goal, and how many people, animals, or plant life you will be able to support with that money. Get specific about where that money will go.
6. Thank them, again
It never hurts to thank them twice. Your first “thank you” was for their previous action of donating. Aim this “thank you” towards the future: Thank your donors for being part of your community and say that you look forward to your work together.
7. Don’t be afraid to ask for more
Include a P.S. at the end for the super-committed donors and ask them to take another step like sharing your campaign on social media or forwarding a campaign email to 5 of their friends. These constituents have just expressed interest in your organization by donating. They are more likely than other constituents to take another action on your behalf, especially if it is something light like a share.
Donor thank you’s in action
Giving season is a busy time for your team, but you can’t sacrifice personalized thanks you’s. Set up an automation to send a quick thank you (like a transaction email) after someone donates, and be sure to include their name and the social share ask. Once the campaign is over, send out a more personalized message using all 7 of the tips above. You can never thank your donors too much, and it will serve as a reminder after the initial excitement has died down.
For those 7 best practices, here are 7 examples of awesome donor thank you emails from nonprofits.
Note: Don’t forget the disclosure that the gift is tax-deductible!
For more fundraising email marketing tips, check out our recorded webinar: 7 Email Marketing Optimization Hacks for Year-End Campaigns with Salsa Labs.