I knew something was wrong the moment I unfolded the letter.
I couldn’t read it.
Not because it was in another language. I couldn’t read it because the text was in an 8-point font.
The backstory: I gave, what was to me, a sizable gift to a ministry that I think is based out of a congregation. I was asked to give by a person I highly respect (remember, in most cases, “people give to people”). I felt good about my gift and my person sent a lovely, heartfelt handwritten thank you note. Then the following “formal” thank you letter arrived.
Here, in part, is what I read (my humble comments are in italics):
Thank you [this is the one and only time this letter says “thank you”] for your donations this Year, between January 1, 2020 and June 30, 2020 of ____ [I only gave once, did anyone notice?]. In this time of “social distancing” we need to be mindful of our neighbors and especially our fellow parishioners [this is not a church I attend; I’m confused].
Paragraph two is spent talking about pledges. I am assuming this is for the church but I really don’t know.
Someone assigned the poor Financial Secretary with the task of acknowledging gifts. The secretary had no idea how important a thank you letter can be. It can make the difference between getting a second gift or never getting another one.
Clearly, there need to be two letters. One to the internal congregants who do or don’t make pledges (for heaven’s sake, get your pledge cards in!). And another, and different letter, for people who sent a donation to the non-profit. Now that the obvious has been stated, here are five tips to put into practice:
1. Use 12-point (at a minimum) and preferably 14-point font. No one should have to hunt down glasses to read a note of thanks.
2. Infuse the letter with gratitude. Say “thank you” or words to that effect at least three times throughout the letter.
3. Explain what the funds will help make possible. How will the world be different because of the donor’s monetary gift?
4. Make it short and sweet. A thank you letter should fit onto one piece of paper.
5. Add any info about specific donations (or your tax-deductible language) either at the end of the letter or on a separate sheet. You don’t want a thank you letter looking like a bill or receipt.
Many people are feeling lonely and isolated during this time in our history. A good thank you letter can minister to people. And an added benefit? They just might be willing to give to you again.
excerpt from a story by Cesie Delve Scheuermann, consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing, Oregan-Idaho AC, Click here to subscribe to her blog: "Inspiring Generosity."
United Methodist Church Giving is about people working together to accomplish something bigger than themselves. In so doing, we effect change around the world, all in the name of Jesus Christ. To read stories about the generosity of United Methodists click here.