Your “Giving Summary” letter should be raising money!

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Yes. You read that headline correctly. You can raise money when you send your donors their 2016 tax summary letter.

Many organizations send donors a letter thanking them for their generosity and summarizing their giving in the previous year.

And many smart organizations raise a lot of money with this letter.  Here’s how . . .

Think of your letter as an appeal letter that just happens to have the donor’s previous giving amounts enclosed.  Put another way, their 2016 giving history is a conversation starter – and then you steer the conversation to why their first gift in 2017 will be so impactful.  Here’s what to do:

  • The outer envelope should say something similar to, “Your 2016 Tax Information enclosed” or “Your 2016 Giving Record enclosed.”  This is what causes the donor to open the letter.
  • The donor’s tax info can be in 1 of 3 places:
    1. In the letter copy (for instance, in a specially-indented paragraph)
    2. On 1/3 of the letter in it’s own little section
    3. On a separate sheet of paper.  This is most often done for donors who give several gifts each year and each gift is listed.
  • The letter should begin by emotionally thanking the donor for their incredible generosity, and tell them that a summary of their giving to [organization name] is enclosed.
  • The letter should then briefly summarize a need that the organization meets, and explain how the donor’s gift meets that need.  This might be something like, ‘there are too many homeless families in our neighborhood’ followed by ‘your gift of $X.XX provides one night of safe housing for a family.’

End the letter by thanking the donor again for their previous giving, and then ask them to ‘renew their support’ by sending in a gift today to help a family who needs help.

As is in most cases with direct communications, include a response card and response envelope. Make it as easy as possible for your donors to send in their donation.

If you don’t normally send out an appeal in January or February, this is a GREAT way to build trust with your donors.  You start by Thanking them for their previous giving, and then are honest that their generosity in 2017 is both needed and will make a difference!

Jim Shapiro
Jim Shapiro

Jim Shapiro is the fundraising coach you always wanted, the proven Sherpa who can help you get to the top of the mountain. He has 20 years experience raising money, including serving as the VP of Development for a $300m nonprofit. He then co-founded The Better Fundraising Co. to help small-to-medium nonprofits raise more money. Jim is married, serves his community by coaching high school football, and has three children.

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