Upon receiving a gift to your organization, it is important to remember that there is a definite distinction between a donor gift acknowledgement and donor recognition/appreciation. Both are vital to the continued cultivation and management of a donor stewardship plan. However, the two should not be combined. Each communication should be seen as an opportunity to connect with your donor, but communicating different sets of information. The ultimate goals are to further the relationship between your donor and your organization and to cue up for continued financial and social support.
A donor acknowledgement letter or a receipt should be received by the donor within a week of their gift, whether financial or in-kind. If done electronically, a receipt for the transaction can be sent instantaneously acknowledging the gift and should be customized to the donor. While for tax purposes this is considered adequate, as a best practice a mailed acknowledgement should follow the electronic for gifts of $250 and above. The acknowledgement should include your organization’s name and Tax-Id number, the amount of the gift, the amount of the tax deduction if different from the donation amount, the organization’s contact information and the donor’s contact information. The document should be clean, clear and concise in communicating that it is a donation receipt and should be followed by a personalized thank you to the donor.
As with the acknowledgement letter, a thank you to the donor should be sent within a week of receiving a gift. Thanking a donor for their gift provides the perfect opportunity to continue to tell the story of your organization by providing specifics on the way their financial or in-kind gift will be used in the advancement of your mission. Including a story or a quote from a client who received services, “insider” updates on current news and events or a personal note from a key relationship stakeholder (staff, CEO, Board Member) will go far in continuing the relationship with the donor.