thank-you letter

Your thank-you letters are like an electric power tool, just waiting to be used.

If you’re like most nonprofits, your tool isn’t fully charged and doesn’t give you the results you’re looking for. It’s missing the mark, like a drill not fully capable of creating a hole.

If you want to build relationships with donors so you can fully fund your budget, you need a fully-charged drill that powerfully does its job.

You need to write and send powerful thank-you letters.

More powerful thank-you letters

It’s not that hard to tweak your letters so they have more impact and become the powerful tool you need them to be.

First, they need to be warm, sincere, and prompt. They needs to include the right pieces so they connect with the donor.

And they need to contain a story.

Thank-you letter makeover

Recently, I helped the Girl Scout Council of the Southern Appalachians to do just that.

Here’s a look at the letter they had. It’s not a bad letter and it hits all the right points. The copy is good and it’s on brand.

What I don’t like about this letter is that it’s predictable. It sounds like letters from lots of other nonprofits, and that’s a bad thing. Your ultimate goal is for your letter to stand out so that donors feel something when they read it.

As a donor, if I read the first paragraph or so and it feels like all the other letters I get, I stop reading, because I know what’s coming. It’s more of the same, and I don’t want to waste my time. That’s a little harsh, but I think most people are that way.

Here’s the truth:

If your thank-you letters don’t grab people from the get-go, chances are good that your donors aren’t reading them. So how effective are those letters in building a relationship with that donor?

The Girl Scout staff and I set out to jazz up their letter and add some emotional punch to it. We picked a story that was easy to love, and added a photo of the girl. We also added a quote from the girl to make more heart-centered.

Here’s the result:

The new letter starts strong. Instead of the letter starting

“On behalf of the many Girl Scouts and volunteers who will benefit from your generosity…”

…we have

“Thanks to you, Mansi is learning how service impacts more lives than just those being served.”

That’s a MUCH better start, wouldn’t you agree? It’s hooky and makes me as the reader curious to find out who Mansi is and what this means.

The story in this letter is a good one and it’s well told. We didn’t go on for paragraphs and paragraphs trying to fit in all kinds of details. Only the important pieces were included, and the story serves its purpose well.

There are several more really good things about this letter:

Now, the Girl Scouts have this great letter and will use it for a few weeks. As part of our Donor Acknowledgement Plan, they’ll change this letter up monthly to make sure that there’s always a fresh one ready to go.

Changing your standard thank-you letter monthly is especially important when you have donors making multiple gifts each year. You don’t want them getting the same old letter every time, do you? What message does that send?

Imagine if they give 3 times during the year, and get to read 3 different heart-warming stories about the work your nonprofit is doing. That’s donor-focused and will definitely positively charge how they feel about their experience.

And that’s a good thing.

Your challenge:

What can you take away from this Thank-You Letter makeover to make YOUR thank-you letters better?