Why You Should Mail Thank You Letters to Online Donors

Do you send a thank you letter by mail after receiving a donation online?

Donors who give online (and there are more of them all the time), do get an emailed thank you. Your online donation system should generate one on the spot.  

But, here’s the catch. That emailed thank you just isn’t enough. You need to also mail a thank you letter to make your donor feel appreciated.

Making a Memory

Ludis Herrera

, Manager of Development Operations at Boston Medical Center, in a discussion on LinkedIn said,

“At BMC, we have a generic email sent out to our donors immediately after an online donation is made (this would be the receipt). This way our donors feel secure that their donation went through the website. However, we do send a paper acknowledgment as well in the mail to show our thanks and to make it more personable….Other organizations might see this as a waste of paper, but our donors appreciate it.”

Snail mail is often maligned, but who doesn’t look forward to going to the mailbox? Lots of donors save their thank you letters, put them on the fridge or pin them to bulletin boards.  A mailed letter “sticks” in a way that an emailed thank you just doesn’t. This is especially true for first-time givers.

And guess who is giving online? First-time donors. A Blackbaud study of multi-channel fundraising found that new donors often make their first gift online. Unfortunately, these donors have the

highest attrition rates. They don’t come back.

But, what do donors who give just one more time do? They become committed donors, volunteers, or monthly givers.

Thanking a donor, by mail, is your best shot at making this conversion.

When Is the Donation Large Enough?

Can’t afford this much thanking right off the bat?  Then consider giving the royal treatment to those who give more than the minimum. But keep the threshold pretty low. You just never know when a small donor will turn out to be your next major donor. 

A Mailed Thank You Is Just Another Channel in Your Campaign

Multichannel fundraising is a hot topic, though no one talks about multichannel thanking. Consider thanking by snail mail just another channel for your campaign. Many people who receive your direct mail appeal likely respond by going to your website and donating. It’s a matter of convenience, not dislike of the mail.

Are you thanking your online donors with a mailed thank you in addition to the online one? If not, consider doing it. I give small amounts to many charities as part of my research on fundraising best practices. When I give online, sometimes I get a mailed thank you but often not. Plus, all too often, that mailed thank you comes after a long wait. 

But when I get a mailed thank you on time and that stars me, the donor, I’m thrilled. See an example of one such thank you on the next page.

Want to read more about thank you letters? Here are 10 Tips for Writing a Winning Thank You Letter. Check out these examples of thank you letters, and examples of email thank yous.