My mom and dad recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. One of my friends wanted to make a donation in their honor and so she sent a check to a non profit organization that my mom and dad support.
Unfortunately, after 4 weeks my parents still had not received an acknowledgment of the donation nor had my friend received a thank you. I emailed one of the leaders of the non profit who said she would get right on it. It took 2 more weeks for my parents to receive the acknowledgement and 3 more weeks for my friend to receive a thank you.
Neither family will be making donations to that organization any time soon. The organization itself is a very worthwhile cause, but people who donate money like to be thanked, and they like to be thanked in a reasonable amount of time.
If you are working at a non profit, develop a template for thank you letters. You always want to personalize your thank you, but the content should be able to remain the same. You want to tell the donor what the money will be used for, how the money is helpful and to let them know their contribution is important.
Always hand sign thank you letters for donations. There is nothing worse than receiving a form letter for a donation with a stamped signature, meaning the only person who even knows you made the donation is the clerk stamping the envelope.
I believe hand addressed envelopes are also very nice. We have so many choices of who to donate money to these days. Why not take every effort to show appreciation to the donor?
One final suggestion; if the donation has been made in someone’s honor, get an acknowledgement out to the honoree. I remember a friend being horrified when she made a very large donation in someone’s honor, never expecting the amount to be disclosed. The acknowledgment did include the amount and my friend NEVER made another donation to this organization as the honoree was embarrassed over the large amount. A simple acknowledgment saying “Mr. and Mrs. Smith have made a donation in your honor is great.
Taking the above steps will make both the donor and the honoree much more apt to contribute in the future.
By John Ogden