In-memo­ri­am dona­tion thank-you let­ter samples

Written by
Lisa Sargent
June 25, 2012

In the memorial thank-you letter samples included with this clinic, I refer readers to the previous thank-you letter clinics, because they contain basic formatting tips you should be applying to all your thank yous. The list below contains the top ten. For more, refer to SOFII’s first donation thank-you letter clinic here.

  1. Personalise. Thank-you letters should not start with ‘Dear Friend.’
  2. Avoid design tricks. A thank you is from one person to another. No need for crazy bold fonts and underlining and italics.
  3. Consider font and format: serif for print, sanserif for electronic thank yous. (Although recent research says the latter isn’t necessarily the best.)
  4. Structure for readability: indent your paragraphs if possible. Keep all paragraphs at seven lines or less. Vary length of paragraphs, i.e. two lines, four lines, seven lines, one line. Use healthy page margins, justified left/ragged right.
  5. Keep it brief. One page, one side, is plenty.
  6. Use more ‘you’ than ‘we’. Focus your thank you on benefits and show the donor how he or she is helping.
  7. Use an engaging start. Just like a good fundraising appeal, you want to draw the reader into your thank you. Nothing says you have to start with ‘thank you’ or ‘on behalf of’.
  8. Add a contacts and update paragraph. How will the donor next hear from you – via a quarterly newsletter, annual report, what and when? And include a phone number and email they can use to contact you.
  9. Use a top-level signatory, president, CEO, etc.
  10. Add a PS. I’ve said it before: postscripts get read, even in emails. So use them to direct readers to your website, to extend an invitation to tour your facility, to update donors on a story in the appeal that prompted the gift. Get creative and always add a final thank you.

Civil Service Benevolence Fund (CSBF), UK

Save the Children, Australia

Community and Home Assistance to Seniors (CHATS), Canada

Habitat for Humanity, USA

Boys and Girls Aid, USA

SPCA of Franklin County, USA

The Foundation Fighting Blindness, USA

About the author: Lisa Sargent

As head of Sargent Communications, Lisa Sargent helps nonprofits raise more money and keep more donors through better donor communications. A creative strategist and copywriter, Lisa works exclusively with nonprofits on direct mail, email fundraising and donor care communications – acquisition appeals, annual reports, proposals, welcome packages, e-appeals, newsletters, thank-you letters and more.

Lisa’s articles have been featured in Mal Warwick’s newsletter, FundRaising Success Magazine and The Agitator. Lisa also publishes The Loyalty Letter, a free e-newsletter for nonprofit and charitable organisations read by subscribers around the world.

Lisa has regularly contributed to SOFII, including the wonderful thank you letter clinic, which you can read here.

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