Make your thank you memorable!
And always provide a receipt
“Merci, danke, grazie, obrigado, gracias, thank you!” How you thank donors makes a difference. When you thank them is important, too.
Thanking donors should not be an afterthought. Your thank you should be memorable, so plan how you will thank donors before you receive your first donation.
Make your thank you memorable
- Thank a donor within 48 hours (or better yet, 24 hours when possible). Some donor websites, such as the MU Advancement site, provide a thank you before the donor logs off; others send an email within seconds.
- A thank you is an expression of respect. Well expressed, it can plant a seed for future additional donations. Not expressing appreciation or expressing it clumsily may actually work to stem future donations.
- What should a thank you express? You gave. Your donation makes a difference, and we appreciate your confidence in MU Extension. We appreciate your investment in a brighter future for the county and for Missouri.
- Use high-quality paper or an interesting card. Make the thank you anything but ordinary to make it memorable.
- In these days of boilerplate language and quickly generated documents, consider sending donors a handwritten and hand-addressed thank-you note.
- Say “thank you” routinely in letters, voice mail, email and websites.
- In addition to thanking donors personally, find a way to recognize them publicly. Unless a donor wishes to be anonymous, public recognition is appropriate. In addition to expressing gratitude to donors, public recognition of current donors may encourage new donors to step forward. It expresses to potential donors that their investment in MU Extension is also welcome.
- Don’t make the thank you the last communication to the donor from MU Extension. Invite donors to attend the 4-H awards night, the annual meeting or the Century Farms event, to view exhibits at the county fair or to run for the County Extension Council. Consider sending donors a periodic mailing containing the annual report or a flier about new programming that explains how their donation made a significant program or event possible.
Always provide donors a receipt
- If the donor hasn’t already received a receipt (for example, the donor mailed a check), include it with the thank you. All money received, cash or checks, needs to be recorded on a prenumbered council receipt that includes the name of the council. A receipt must be issued for anytransaction in which MU Extension receives money, whether at the extension center or another location. A copy of the receipt must be maintained as an official part of the accounting record. For details, see http://extension.missouri.edu/acctmanual/policy/Fiscal_Policies_and_Procedures.pdf.
- The Internal Revenue Service requires a donor to have a bank record or written communication for any monetary contribution before it can be claimed as a charitable contribution on the donor’s federal income tax return. For any single contribution of $250 or more, the donor is responsible for obtaining a written acknowledgment from the charity before the charitable contribution can be claimed on the donor’s federal income tax return.
For details, consult IRS publication Charitable Contributions: Substantiation and Disclosure Requirements (PDF).
- Consider using this customizable gift acknowledgement document (DOCX).