Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks

If you’ve managed your work well this year, you should get to spend a great deal of time between Thanksgiving and the Superbowl party writing Thank You letters. As a refresher, here’s what I suggested way back in February:

  • Remember that your thank you letters can and should carry your annual communications theme, too.
  • Get your thank you letters out right away. My aunt used to say that the value of a thank you note is reduced by half for every day that goes by. Aim for either the same day or the next day.
  • Mention the specific amount of the gift unless your organization will be sending a separate receipt. And if the actual gift was not cash, always describe the actual gift rather than assigning or declaring a value for it. Thank them for their gift of “100 shares of XYZ stock,” or the “twelve conference chairs,” or whatever.


Fundraiser’s Almanac – November

Fundraiser’s Almanac – December

  • Fall Appeal 2nd Drop
  • Good News
  • Planning for Year-End
  • Filing/Data Entry
  • Lapsed Member Letters


  • Take all the other numbers out of your letter! The fact that you are working on 15 projects, including 25-acres here or there, is neither helpful nor effective when communicating with donors. It speaks to the head, not to the heart.
  • Let the thank you be the only purpose of the letter. Avoid combining it with another solicitation (yes, I’ve seen it happen!), or an invitation to another event. Those communications can fill another, separate envelope.
  • Consider writing it from an unexpected perspective, especially for donors who have a specific interest – such as from an intern who spent the summer on the land, or a child whose church had a program on the preserve, or even a bullfrog whose pond will be cow-free because of the fence you helped purchase.
  • Regularly scan for the we/you sensitivity. When letters refer to “we” and “us,” they should be inclusive of the reader (or donor). If you are thanking donors for helping “us” protect more land, consider rewriting the sentence.
  • Consider augmenting your letter with a photo or a video. (Not an “embedded” photo, a real one!)
  • Say thanks again at the end of the letter.

I just added a document to the Resources Page on Thank You Letters. It’s a document I ran across years ago that someone compiled of dozens of Thank You letters. Frankly, most of them are pretty vanilla, but several are really good and who knows, maybe one will inspire you to write a letter that is “fridge-worthy.” (See Writing Thank You Letters)

And that gives me this idea. If you might be so motivated, I’d love to see a thank you letter that either you are proud to have written or delighted to have received. Let’s compile our own Master Doc of Thank You Letters.

Send your entries to me at fundraisinghelp at sbcglobal dot net. I’ll post the ones I get on the resources page.

So as we approach Turkey Day, I’d like to say thank you! too for the feedback and encouragement on this blog. And thank you for all the work you do for land conservation.

Happy Thanksgiving!

David Allen


Photo credit: Wild turkey pair courtesy of Walt Kaesler.


Learn about David’s fundraising coaching services here.

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1 Comment
  • David Allen
    Posted at 10:25h, 29 November

    (From my email this morning…)

    “Not a letter and not a conservation organization, but I thought this was well done and I think if we in conservation are going to connect with the younger generations, electronic media will become more frequent.

    “At about the same time, a letter for the annual appeal arrived in the mail. It tied the video to the letter (without mentioning the video) by writing a paragraph about three of the students.”

    Mystic, CT

    Thanks, Rick!