ISRT thank-you and wel­come letter

Exhibited by
September 05, 2009
Medium of Communication
Direct mail
Target Audience
Type of Charity
Healthcare, research & policy development
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance

SOFII’s view

ISRT (International Spinal Research Trust) produced this ‘first response’ welcome and thank-you letter at a time when complex welcome packages were becoming increasingly fashionable in the UK. As a small and not well-funded organisation, the charity wanted to produce something that was very low cost yet which thanked donors appropriately and introduced and explained the organisation. Plus, it set out to outline compellingly what support from donors means so that, hopefully, recipients would keep on supporting. In effect, ISRT produced a ‘welcome pack on a single page’. This low cost example of donor relationship development shows fundraising creativity at its simplest and best. Every fundraising organisation could and should aspire to have a thank-you programme and materials at least as good as this.

Creator / originator

Burnett Associates Limited together with ISRT

Summary / objectives

ISRT’s objective was to create a format for highly personalised ‘thank you’ letters that could be easily used by the fundraising department staff and would incorporate all the important ingredients of a good welcome package on a single sheet of paper.


When this letter first appeared the process of thanking donors was widely considered to be an administrative chore. It wasn’t very usual for fundraising organisations in Britain (or anywhere else for that matter) to be very good or very prompt at the basic politeness of saying ‘thank you’ for a donation. Thanks to the work of researchers such as Penelope Burk and to the pioneering of organisations such as ISRT, we now know that, as Jo Habib puts it in her book Tiny Essentials of Raising Money from Foundations and Trusts, ‘any fundraiser who does not say thank you quickly and properly is an idiot as well as rude’.

This thank-you letter shows how simple, inexpensive, easy and effective the process can be.

Special characteristics

More than two thirds of the space on the front of the letter is blank. An individual letter can be laser printed and personalised onto this, for each recipient. The grey text gives essential background facts about ISRT and its work, explains who is supporting it and how, and shows how ISRT can help donors. A panel on the front by the signature asks ‘do you want a word with someone?’ and lists three individuals and their roles, inviting donors to contact them with any queries. On the reverse, the letter provides an opportunity for donors to introduce their friends to ISRT and also includes the forms that, at the time, donors had to complete to enable the charity to recover the tax they’d already paid on their donation, under the UK government’s tax recovery scheme.

Influence / impact

This letter appears as an example of best practice in Ken Burnett’s 1992 book Relationship Fundraising.


Just design and printing, plus the cost of retaining a good agency.


It’s simple, effective, clear and very easy to copy.