Funding can be one of the biggest single challenges of running a nonprofit. Without funding, programming becomes increasingly difficult. So what is the key to funding a nonprofit? Gratitude, of course! Writing an effective and heartfelt letter of thanks for donations lets donors know that you value them. And hopefully, this letter helps keep your nonprofit top of mind for future donations.
I started my own nonprofit to support transgender youth called Meta Center Inc in 2016. I had a big goal of creating an inclusive space for transgender youth to feel safe and supported. My goal was large but my funding definitely on the small scale. I dug as deep as I could into my own pockets. I also relied heavily on the kindness and generosity of family, friends and community members. A letter of thanks for donations helped ensure that my nonprofit started off on the right foot.
Letter of Thanks for Donations
Over the years, I’ve worked on perfecting the art of gratitude. Here are my tips on how to write a standout donor-centered letter of thanks for donations:
You should send out your thank you letter within 48 hours. This means that you need to be prepared for a donation that could come at any time. Follow the steps below to ensure that your letter is ready to customize and send quickly.
Make it Personal
Avoid a pre-printed card you keep on hand. Personalization is the key to a memorable letter of thanks. Skip “Dear Donor” or “Hello Friend” and include your donor’s name. They took the time to donate to your nonprofit. You need to take the time to write a real personalized letter. If this is not their first donation, make sure you include: “Thank you for another contribution..” Return donors are so important to your nonprofit’s livelihood. This simple touch acknowledges in a personal way that you appreciate them thinking of you again.
Tell A Story
I start all of letter of thanks for donations the same way: I tell a personal story. This is the best way to grab the reader’s attention. Detail how the nonprofit directly impacted an individual’s life for the better. With permission, share that individual’s name and include a direct quote. Make it clear right from the beginning who directly benefited from their donation. For Meta Center Inc, a story might details an individual who was able to start their medical transition, find a gender-affirming doctor, buy their first binder and live as their true authentic self.
Numbers, figures and statistics take the personal story and extrapolate that one individual’s experience to demonstrate the full reach of your nonprofit’s work. Did your nonprofit organization increase individuals served this year? Were you able to step up your programming efforts? You added an extra weekly support group? Share that with your donor! As a donor, they are champions of your nonprofit’s success. Brag a little!
What’s Next for Your Nonprofit
Once you’ve let your donor know how their funding has impacted your organization already, let them know what you plan to do next. If you haven’t completed a project, let them know where you stand. No one expects you to have everything together, but an update goes a long way! Stay transparent and tell your donor how their funds will be used.
Don’t Ask for Another Donation
This is a letter of thanks for a donation. This is not the time to ask for another donation. Asking for another donation 48 hours after you received the first one simply comes off as ungrateful. An effective letter of thanks for donations will ensure that when your donor is ready to give again, your organization will be top of mind!
Keep the Door Open
If your donor is local, let them know about your next event or invite them over to the office for a tour. Take them to coffee. Think of your donors as relationships. You nurture relationships, right? Donors are the same! Make sure the letter is written and hand-signed directly by someone on your leadership team.
Feel confident you can nail the letter of thanks for donations yet? Remember to keep it personal, tell a story and show that gratitude!
Giovonni Santiago is an Akron-based transgender advocate, military veteran and founder of META Center Inc, a nonprofit dedicated to educating, motivating and inspiring transgender youth in need of resources and support. Santiago served in the US Air Force from 2006 to 2010 before a back injury forced him to return to civilian life. Upon his return to Northeast Ohio, Santiago received his degree in early childhood education and began teaching preschool and coaching youth sports. In 2013, Santiago started his transition at Louis Stokes Veterans Affairs Medical Center. As his doctor’s first transgender patient, they both recognized a lack of resources and worked together to create the G.I.V.E Clinic. When the clinic opened in 2015, it became the first transgender-specific clinic in the country. Santiago is a trusted voice in the LGBTQ community facilitating workshops at TransOhio, Trans in the CLE , the Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference as well as speaking at the Nature Conservancy in Washington DC. Locally, he has spoken at the Cleveland Clinic Patient Experience Summit and the Nurses Conference at Akron Children’s Hospital. He served as the diversity liaison for the inaugural Akron Pride and helped pass the first non-discrimination as a part of Akron United. He was recently named one of Cleveland Magazine’s Most Interesting People for 2018 and was featured on NBC Out’s #Pride30 list celebrating LGBTQ individuals making an impact across the country. Giovonni also walked the runway during New York Fashion Week for dapperQ showing there’s no limit to his ability to make an impact just by being his authentic self.