6 thank you emails that land every time

It's no secret: Donations are the lifeblood of every nonprofit. And while generating this money is key, so is thanking the people who give to your cause. This encourages both first-time and established donors to give again, and also spreads the word about your work.

Cultivating the ongoing goodwill of existing donors is also critical due to the low-performance metrics of fundraising emails.

  • The average response rate is .05%.

  • The average clickthrough rate is .38%.

  • Fundraising emails generate $36 per 1,000 emails.

  • Only 1 donation is received for every 2,000 fundraising emails.

No pressure, right?

This is why it's important to thank each donor for every gift, large and small. To that end, here are six great examples to help you craft your next thank you letter or email.

Best practices for donation thank you emails

The most effective thank you emails do more than just offer an expression of gratitude. They also work to make a connection with the donor, showing how they’ve contributed to furthering your cause. And as noted above, this will build goodwill within your donor base.

Here are nine best practices for your next thank you email:  

  • personalize the email

  • make the donor the story

  • detail the specific results of the campaign they donated to

  • include links to more information

  • provide a photo to show the campaign's tangible impact

  • offer another opportunity to help—without asking for more money

  • have the email come from an executive in your organization

  • celebrate your successes thanks to donors without requiring a contribution

  • be grateful without using over-the-top language

This may seem like a lot to keep in mind, so let's see how it all works by looking at the examples below. But first, a note on designing your emails.

An important component of email design is the give and take between the arrangement of different text and visual elements. None of the examples below are meant to be prescriptive. Instead, they're better suited to help inspire different ideas and possibilities for your own emails.

1. Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK is the world's largest independent cancer research charity. Public donations make up almost all of its budget, which included 423 million pounds for research alone in 2017 and 2018.     

Cancer Research
Image Source: CharityLink

Key takeaways:

  • The top of the email has a picture indicating the charity's primary mission: medical research.

  • The salutation is personalized to the recipient.

  • The first sentence makes the donor the story by focusing on "your support."

  • Additional information is provided about recent legislative efforts as well as significant investments in new radiotherapy machines.  

  • The closing emphasizes once again the role of the donor and displays gratitude: "Without you, none of this would be possible – thank you."

  • The second picture portrays a couple whose lives have been positively impacted by this charity.

  • A link is provided to Cancer Research UK's annual report for additional information about the charity operations. At the same time, this is phrased as enabling a donor to "discover some of the ways your support is making a difference.

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