Great donor stewardship is one of the hallmarks of a strong development program. If you want to get your donors to keep giving year after year, and to give more each year than the year before, you have to steward them the right way. And great donor stewardship starts with your thank you script.
When a donor makes a gift to your non-profit, the first step to a lifelong relationship with that donor is to thank them in a way that shows how important their support is to your work. Then, once you thank and recognize your donor, you can continue building a relationship with them through your donor stewardship program.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at a simple thank you script for thanking your donors over the phone, and another for thanking them through snail mail and e-mail.
What’s the Best Way to Thank Your Donors?
Frankly, most non-profits aren’t thanking their donors very well. Many organizations simply kick out a form letter that gets dropped into the mail a week or two after a gift comes in, and then add the donor to their mailing list. If you want the donor to continue to support your non-profit, you need to do more than that.
Start with a Call
If you want to thank your donors the right way, start with a phone call. Research has shown that calling your donor to thank them for their gift within a few days after receiving the donation will boost their lifetime giving to your non-profit by a significant amount.
If you want to read more about why thank you calls are so important, read Donor Thank You Calls: Your Key to Raising More Money this Year. You can use the donor call thank you script below to make your calls easy and effective.
Follow Up with a Letter
After calling you donor to acknowledge their gift, send a snail mail letter that is more than just a donor receipt. You can and should send a gift receipt for tax purposes, but you should also include a heartfelt thank you note that is on a separate sheet of paper. This is important, because it shows your donor that you are writing because you care about their gift, not just because you need to provide them with a tax form.
For major donors, I prefer to send handwritten thank you notes, along with the typewritten tax receipt. For all other donors, I like to send a standard but heartfelt typed thank you letter, which I then sign and write a short one or two sentence note on. This can then be mailed along with the tax receipt. For online gifts, I still like to send a snail mail thank you letter if I have the donor’s mailing address. The thank you script below will work for either snail mail or e-mailed thank you letters.
Thank You Script for Phone Calls
As noted above, the thank you calls you make to your donors should be made soon after you receive their donations. The calls don’t need to be long – you are simply acknowledging the gift, letting the donor know it was received, and thanking them for their support. If your call gets sent to voicemail, that’s ok… you can leave a message using the same script and cross the call off of your list.
Here’s a simple thank you script I use for my donor thank you calls:
“Hi Mark, this is Amber Garvey, the Executive Director at The Robbins Avenue Shelter. I’m calling to thank you for your generous gift of $1,000 to our organization. I just wanted you to know that the check arrived and that we really appreciate your support.
We’ll be sending out a formal thank you letter later this week. In the meantime, do you have any questions about our Shelter? No? Ok, thanks again, and I hope to meet you in person sometime soon!”
That’s it! The key is that the donor received a call, not that it was a long conversation. Sure, some donors may want to chat, but many will simply say, “I’m glad we could help.” And remember – never solicit another gift during a thank you call!
Thank You Script for Letters and E-Mails
Just like your thank you calls, your thank you letters can be relatively short… you don’t need to send your donor a three page thank you letter that includes an overview of all of your programs. Instead, make your thank you letters personal, heartfelt, and mission focused.
Every organization’s thank you letters and e-mails will look different, because the letters should directly relate to your mission. Here’s a sample thank you script I like to use for my own donor thank you letters:
Thank you so much for your generous gift of $1,000 to The Robbins Avenue Shelter! We simply would not be able to provide warm beds and hot meals to our city’s homeless if it were not for your support. Thank you!
Your donation will allow us to provide 40 nights of shelter to one of Philadelphia’s most vulnerable. Thanks to you, for each of those nights we’ll be able to provide a hand-up to a fellow Philadelphian, giving him or her a place to sleep, two hot meals, sanitary products, job counseling, health referrals, and more.
Our goal here at the Shelter is to help every single person who is living on the streets to find a job, a home, and a community to call their own. In the meantime, we want to provide them with a safe and warm place to rest and prepare for the day ahead. Thanks to you and our amazing family of donors, this year we will help over 3,000 homeless find shelter and food, and we expect to place over 300 of those men and women into long-term housing.
Thank you once again for your very generous donation. Over the coming months, I will keep you updated on how your money is being used to help those in need. If you ever have any questions or want to hear more about our work, please don’t hesitate to call me at 215-555-1212 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is a great year to take a look at your donor thanking system to make sure you are stewarding your donors as well as possible. Use the donor thank you scripts above to help you create call and letter scripts that your team can use to thank you donors properly. Then, be sure to continue communicating with your donors regularly to ensure they feel like valued members of your team.