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by Larry Weaver

How many of you have heard “Thank before you bank”, or “Thank early, thank often”, or similar catch phrases when talking with other fund raisers and consultants? A quick follow-up thank you to a donation is very effective, as discussed in this article on thanking donors. That is one of the things that Basic does best, help you to get out your personalized thank you letters in a timely manner. 

With FundRaiser Basic, you can easily print out thank you letters for gifts received on a daily basis. Remember that, when you enter a gift, there is a check box marked to send a thank you letter. This check box mark is what allows you to automate the letter (and envelope or label) printing for your donations. At the end of the day, you simply go to the Print menu, select Letters, and print for “Marked Gifts”. Then, print the labels (or envelopes), using the same “Marked Gifts” choice. And, when the printing is done and you’re satisfied with the results, use the “Mark Thank You’s Done” selection of the Print menu to remove those marks, so that you don’t accidentally print and send a second thank you for any gift.

Some daily routine needs to be in place, but, in general, you’ll be entering gifts into FundRaiser Basic, then printing letters (with labels/envelopes), then taking them to the mailbox. If you do this every day, then you’ll always be thanking folks in the most timely manner possible, and it will become second nature for you.

Of course, you need to have a letter template created in the Word Processor before you can print out the letters. And if you want to change the wording of the letter, then you’ll want to either create a new template (which I strongly recommend), or edit the one you have been using. The word processor in FundRaiser Basic is very easy for anyone who has used any other word processor in the past. You simply type the thank you letter once, in the form of a template. And I always write my first draft as if I were actually writing to a single donor. Then, once I’m satisfied with what I’m saying to that donor, I go back through the template and replace any personal information with merge fields or functions that take information from the donor and gift records, so that the template can be used for anyone in my database.

So, I might leave the date “hard-wired” by simply typing in today’s date, but if I’m going to use the letter over time, it is better to use the “Today’s Date” function found on the right margin of the word processor window. Then, for the inside address, I can simply use the “Address Block” function, which puts in what amounts to a mailing label, with the donor’s name and address. Next I start of the letter, with a salutation, such as:

Dear Donor,

Of course, I want to use their name, so I replace the word “Donor” with the “Salutation” function.  Then, in the body of the letter, I tell them how great they are and how much we appreciate their donation, and maybe a bit about how their money will help…  all those things that make a donor feel good about giving, of course. And I can mention their gift, too, by using the Gift Amount function and/or the Gift Date function.

Once a letter template is created it is immediately ready for use, whether it’s a gift thank you letter, or an appeal letter, or an end of year statement letter.  

Remember, too, that the order in which items are printed is dependent upon the display order you have set in the main window. The default is Name Order, but you can change it if you like.

If you can’t personally phone each donor to thank them for their generosity, a personalized letter is the next best thing, and most effective if it’s done in a timely manner. Make sure you enter gifts as soon as you get them, and that you send out your thank you letters as soon as gifts are entered, and your donors will be more likely to donate again when asked in the future.

Resources

Case Study:  CrossTalk TV & Radio uses Basic to grow

Thank before you bank: the importance of saying thank you