Funding Change Consulting Blog Advice

The Perfect Donor Relations Tool for January

Now is the perfect time to show your donors extra love

After the onslaught of solicitations your donors receive from all nonprofits throughout December, now is the time to show them some love.

My recommendation: send a letter in January detailing their total giving in 2018 for tax purposes. And more importantly, tell them all the amazing things they made possible with their support.

Some of you may already be doing a letter like this. But I can virtually guarantee that you’re not taking advantage of it for the true donor relations opportunity that it is.

First, just doing a letter like this is good for your relationships with your donors. Because you’re making it easier and more convenient for them come tax time. Easy + convenient + thinking about their needs = donor love.

But, I want you to take it to the next level…

I want this to be the mother of all “thank you” notes. I want effusive thanks, endless gratitude, and sincere appreciation oozing from every sentence.

If it feels over the top, you’re probably striking exactly the right tone.

This letter is your opportunity to tell the donor:

  • How important they are to your cause, your mission, and your organization (not the importance of the gift, but the person themselves)
  • The difference they made and their impact as a donor (again not the donation, but the person)
  • The accomplishments they made possible because they gave
  • That none of this would have happened without them
  • That they’re a critical partner in this work

Of course, there is also the info you need to include for tax purposes:

  • The total amount given in 2018 and the dates and amounts of each donation
  • The portion of that total that’s tax-deductible (if it’s all tax-deductible, say that, too)
  • That no goods or services were provided (as long as they weren’t!)

But include all this at the bottom of the page, after you’ve signed off. Don’t try to incorporate the legal mumbo jumbo into the body of your letter or you risk sounding like a robot.

And I’d like you to sound as much like a real, live human being as possible.

Lastly, don’t forget the important guidelines for all your “thank you” notes:

  • Don’t start with “thank you” or “on behalf of.”
  • Have whoever signs the letter add a handwritten note.
  • Give the contact info for a person to call/email directly if they need anything at all.
  • Avoid jargon and “we-speak.”
  • Don’t ask for another gift or even allude to their future or continued support.

Let me end with one more benefit to these letters…

You’ll have far fewer last-minute requests from supporters who lost the original acknowledgment letters you sent in 2018 because they’ll have this is to give to their accountants.

But they’ll make a copy of it first, of course…Since this will be one of those “thank you” letters that makes them feel so good, they’ll want to keep the original for themselves!

Tina Cincotti, owner of Funding Change, is a donor communications expert and general nonprofit nerd.
January 8, 2019

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