Key to Successful Fundraising: Appreciating Our Donors

Dear Kim,

I am new to development and I have heard several contradictory things about the kinds of acknowledgements I should be sending to donors. Someone said we are required by law to send a thank you for every gift and someone else said you have to subtract the value of anything you send to the donor. Then someone else said that you only have to thank people who give over $250 and someone else said you are not allowed to thank people unless they request it and on and on. I know you say, “Thank before you bank” but that doesn’t sound like a law as much as a good habit.

~Help!  

Dear Help!

You do seem surrounded by people with lots of advice and little knowledge. Thanks to my colleague, Stan Yogi, I have information from the horse’s mouth (or more accurately, the IRS) here:  https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1771.pdf. The specifics of written acknowledgments are #3 on p. 2.

Successful fundraising requires a deep ability to be grateful. The law reflects that, but real gratitude goes way beyond the law. People give you money when they could be giving it elsewhere or not giving it at all. A great deal of money is given by people with very little money.   Whatever size a gift is, and whatever the gift represents in terms of the donor’s ability, it is still a gift. The relationships you develop by showing that you are pleased with the donation and then showing that you did good work with the money will lead to more donors and more money. Follow the law and then go beyond the law.

~Kim Klein

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