Checklist with red felt pen, and checked boxes.

In this article from by Lisa Sargent, learn how to improve your Thank You letters to donors.

1) Send one. The cardinal rule of donor thank-you letters is to send one.
Mystery donation tests
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show that just under half of nonprofits either don’t bother to send a
gift acknowledgment or wait too long to do so.

2) Act fast, but with heart. If you can get a warm, personal, and engaging
thank-you letter out the door within five to seven days of receiving a
donation, you’re going to be far more effective than the organization
that sends a heartless template letter that arrives in 48 hours. But
don’t delay longer than a week.

3) Make it personal. Begin with a salutation like “Dear Lisa,” or “Dear
Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” as opposed to “Dear Friend.”

4) Engage from the start. Forget about “on behalf of”; use an exciting
lead to your thank-you. Visit my free thank-you letter clinic
<> on
the Showcase of Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration (SOFII) for
before-and-after examples.

5) Note what they gave. Be sure you include the amount of the gift received.

6) Be appropriate to the situation.

If this is a repeat gift, add thanks for the donor’s past generosity and
indicate all it has made possible.

If the gift was made to honor someone else, do not thank the tribute
recipient—instead, say that a gift was made in his or her honor, and
note the good it will do. Send a warm and personal thank-you letter to the
person who made the tribute.

If the donation was made for a specific reason, such as a membership
renewal, a response to a holiday appeal, a memorial, or capital-campaign
support, note that. And if the gift was for a capital campaign, focus on
all the good the new building, machine, or wing will do.

If you need to reference something specific, such as a small
gift—sometimes called a premium—or photo enclosed with the letter, do

7) Don’t leave them hanging. Tell the donors when and how they will next
hear from you. For example: “In your upcoming member newsletter, we’ll
keep you posted on the many good things you’re making possible.”

8)Offer a way to connect. Note that the donor can contact you with any
questions, and provide a phone number. If you also give a contact email,
do not use a generic address; specify a real, live person.

9)Mention your website. If you have space in the letter, include a simple
call-to-action to drive the donor to your website. For example: “Keep up
with all the ways you’re helping at”

10) Use a postscript. Say something new or timely in your P.S., such as
referring the donor to recent online videos, a holiday message, an
opportunity to visit or meet with you, etc.

11) Sign it right (and call if you can).

99 percent of the time your thank-you letter should come from the top, and
that means your organization’s chief executive or president.

Hand-sign each letter if you can. If you have too many donors, decide on a
threshold based on the size of a gift and the number of letters you or a
board member will hand-sign, plus a giving threshold for donors to get a
(highly effective) thank-you phone call

12) Edit like a pro by making sure you:

keep the letter short—one side of a standard piece of paper, or three to
four paragraphs plus a postscript.

add the required language about tax deductibility.

use the word “you” more than “we” and “our.”

say “thank you” more than once.

share with the donor “all your gift makes possible…”

proof your letter using your spelling checker and then print it and read
it out loud, word for word.

13) Know your gratitude letter dos and don’ts.

Do not include an additional “ask” for more money, but including a
reply envelope is fine—we haven’t seen a drop in retention among
donors who receive those envelopes.

Don’t add a message urging the donor to upgrade to monthly giving or
another program. Save those messages for an appeal.

Do include other-than-money asks, such as invitations to volunteer, tour
your programs, visit, give you feedback, attend an event, etc.

To subscribe to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, click here.


Celebrating Seeds- MELCA- Ethiopia

by Swift Foundation on May 22, 2015

1bIn this video clip, MELCA and Bale celebrate the rehabilitation of Bale’s degraded lands and the renewed sustainability of seedlings and the environment for future generations. With MELCA’s help, Bale has been able to revitalize all 19 of their original seed varieties, which have been tremendously important because of the many agro-ecological conditions. Rather than using the provision of hybrid seeds, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides to increase yield, MELCA and Bale have turned to more sustainable methods of soil and water conservation, using compost, planting trees, and providing legal protection to farmers for their own seeds to provide for a growing population. The farmers and the people of Bale have much to look forward to, for they have a bright future ahead of them. Click here to watch the video.


1aBale, Ethiopia has been a place of great history, love, peace, and sanctity to many. In order to maintain its vibrancy, the people of Bale have needed a source of energy and income, and MELCA has worked with them hand in hand to provide just that. MELCA has provided many essential items to the people of Bale, including wire and nails to fence off wetland for restoration, seedlings and land to restore the growth of indigenous trees, and fuel saving stoves and sheep to sustain them. SEGNI is also a 5 day program that has been created to fully immerse the youth of Bale in their culture and to transfer knowledge from elders to the youth to ensure the revival of Bale’s natural resources. By supporting the ideas of the people and allowing their culture to thrive and sustain themselves, MELCA has been able to achieve its goal of conserving and taking care of biodiversity. Click here to watch the video.


Lending to Poor Farmers: Seeding the Market

by Swift Foundation on March 18, 2015

The Economist ArticleRoot Capital has been featured in the latest print issue of The Economist. This article explores Root Capital’s 15-year track record, their impact to date, and their aspirations for the future. Providing important, mainstream validation of their model, journalist Matthew Bishop describes their work as proof that rural enterprises “make safe and profitable borrowers.” Click here to read the article. 



Dust from Saharan DesertDust from the hot Saharan Desert of northern Africa has a connection to a much different climate in South America, according to a study by NASA scientists. Using satellite data, the study has found that the dust is acting as fertilizer for South America’s Amazon rainforest about 1,600 miles away to the west over the Atlantic Ocean. Read more and watch short video. 


Seeds of Sovereignty Now Available in Amharic and French

by Swift Foundation on March 13, 2015

Seeds of Sovereignty ImageSeeds of Sovereignty was released just over a year ago by The Gaia Foundation and the African Biodiversity Network in collaboration with GRAIN and MELCA Ethiopia. Set predominantly in Ethiopia, the 30 minute film shares the stories of African communities on a journey to revive their traditional seed diversity and take back control over their food systems, challenging the corporate, profit driven model of agriculture. View Amharic and French versions.


Declaration Ancestral BurialConcerned by threats to burial grounds, the Declaration calls on the State to recognise and safeguard these places as cultural heritage and prevent their damage and destruction by others, and to recognise and support the role of indigenous peoples in protecting their burial grounds. While set in the Canadian context, some of these principles could be asserted in other countries. Click here to read the declaration. 


Mali_planting-rice_DevanWardwellAbtAssociatesA battle is raging for control of resources in Africa – land, water, seeds, minerals, ores, forests, oil, renewable energy sources. Agriculture is one of the most important theatres of this battle. Governments, corporations, foundations and development agencies are pushing hard to commercialise and industrialise African farming. Read the new AFSA/GRAIN report. 


Maria Amalia Souza“There is no doubt that human rights must be at the top of the current environmental protection efforts of our times, there is no way to dissociate one from the other, not in places of the global South that hold so much of the natural resources left on this planet.” Read blog post by Maria Amalia Souza, the Founding Executive Director of the Socio-Environmental Fund CASA.


ghana_anti-gmo-protestThe front lines of the food sovereignty war in Ghana are swelling as the national parliament gives support to the Plant Breeders Bill. This proposed legislation contains rules that would restrict farmers from ancient practices: freely saving, swapping, and breeding seeds. Read press release from Organic Consumers Association. 


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