Donation Thank You Letter Mistakes

One key aspect of donor retention is properly thanking your donors. Here are some donation thank you letter mistakes to avoid when you do say thanks.

You want your donors to know that you appreciate their donation and also show how it will help improve things for the people your nonprofit organization is trying to help. Your thank you letter needs to be personal, sincere, and appreciative, yet many groups don’t get things right when thanking their supporters.


Donation Thank You Letter Mistakes

Eight Mistakes to Avoid in Donation Thank You Letters For a Fundraising Gift Or Contribution

The easiest way to encourage a donor to mail you another donation is to thank her properly for her last gift. There are right ways and wrong ways to thank your donor. Avoid these mistakes when mailing your donation thank-you letters, notes and cards.

Mistake #1: Be impersonal – Rather than address your thank-you letter to your donor by name, write, “Dear Friend.”

Mistake #2: Don’t say thank you – Rather than saying that you are thankful for your donor’s gift, say something clear and sincere, such as: “Feelings of gratitude are felt by us regarding the financial contribution made by yourself.”

Mistake #3: Be general rather than specific – Don’t mention the size of the gift ($20, for example). Omit the date that you received the gift. Don’t even call it a gift. I prefer “remittance,” myself. Avoid any mention of the campaign your donor responded to with his gift. Donors are not busy people who need to be reminded that they responded to your appeal.

Mistake #4: Don’t show how the donor’s gift is making a difference – Don’t bother reinforcing in your donor’s mind that sending a gift was a wise investment in the work of your organization. Rather than describe a recent success that was made possible by the donor’s generosity, simply say: “Your gift has been deposited in our general fund.”

Or, even better, “Thanks for helping us chip away at our $3.2 million deficit.” You could show in specific, tangible ways, how or where the donors gift is making a difference in the lives of the people that your non-profit serves, but that takes time and mental effort, right? Plus, your board wants you to save money on paper and postage.

Mistake #5: Be thankful for the donation, not the donor – Treat every donor like an automated banking machine. Don’t acknowledge that you value your reader as an individual, a person, someone who supports your organization and believes in your mission. Instead, make no mention of them, and simply say you are thankful for their money.

Mistake #6: Make your thank-you letter a memo from head office – Make your communication one way. You write, they read. Don’t invite your donor to write you, or phone you, or visit your website, or drop by your mission, or in any other way strengthen your relationship.

Mistake #7: Always ask for another gift – Of course your thank-you letter should say thanks. But it should also contain an aggressive appeal for more funds. So what if you cheapen your thanks and offend your supporter? You need their money. So be bold, and hard-sell the request for another gift.

Mistake #8: Strive for banality – Don’t be fresh. Make your letter commonplace. Recycle phrases from all your other thank-you letters. Read your letter out loud to make sure it sounds like it was churned out by a bureaucracy.

If, on the other hand, you want to thank your donors well, do the opposite of this advice.

More Donor Thank You Letter Tips

Sample Fundraising Thank You Letter – Many times in life, we know we need to thank people for helping out, but can’t find the right things to say. Here are some tips on how to say thanks along with a sample fundraising thank you letter you can copy.

Sample Donation Thank You Letters – The most important letter in direct mail fundraising never asks for a donation. Thank-you letters increase donor loyalty, strengthen relationships and increase your chances of receiving more gifts in the future, including major gifts and legacy gifts.

51 Fundraising Thank You Quotes – Sometimes you just need a little inspiration for fundraising thank you letters, so here are some thank you quotes from fundraising letters used to thank donors for their donations. This list of 51 fundraising thank you quotes was assembled by professional copywriter Alan Sharpe, an expert on fundraising appeal letters.

Donation Thank You Letter Second Ask – Given that 65% of first-time donors won’t ever give your nonprofit a second donation, should you do a second ask with your thank you letter? The answer, surprisingly, is yes because statistically it’s the right thing to do.

About the author Alan Sharpe, CFRE, is a fundraising practitioner, author, trainer and speaker. Through his weekly newsletter, books, handbooks and workshops, Alan helps not-for-profit organizations worldwide to acquire more donors, raise more funds and build stronger relationships. As the Director of Direct Development with The Gideons International In Canada, Alan manages their direct mail, major gifts and planned giving programs. Sign up for “Alan Sharpe’s Fundraising Pointers,” Alan’s free, weekly, email newsletter, at