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  • Otto Reinisch

Do your gift acknowledgement letters do these three things?

The most important letter your donors receive is a timely, personalized 'thank you' for their last gift. I’ve been told, thank you letters are responsible for raising more money than all other forms of donor contact. They have the power to either deepen relationships with donors – or, end them.


So, what are three things the best gift acknowledgement letters do?


1. They tell the donor what their gift accomplished, avoiding vague language.

Instead of this…

Your gift helped advance our mission across the city…

Try this…

Your thoughtful generosity helped keep the dream of college alive for more than 100 students in our after-school tutoring program…

2. They cast a compelling vision for where the organization is heading.

Instead of this…

Last month we provided more meals than ever…

Try this…

I am encouraged by our board’s commitment to do whatever it takes to help even more children facing food insecurity at home.

3. They encourage and invite the donor’s continuing support.

Instead of this in the closing paragraph…

Thank you, again, for your thoughtful support. Your gift is appreciated.

Try this…

I am encouraged by the continuing support of friends, like you, as more families than ever look to us for help – and hope – in the coming months. Together, we can be there for them. Thank you.


Especially in a digital age where more organizations use email and computer-generated receipts to acknowledge gifts, personal thank you letters make your organization stand out. And, the very best of these include a brief hand-written note, even if it’s a simple ‘thank you!’


Finally, your ‘thank you’ must be timely. I use the rule of thumb of having each letter out the door within 48 hours after receipt. The only way this will happen is when gift acknowledgement letters are a specific, important part of someone's job description. In some organizations, this can even be a volunteer.


"You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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