Writing Thank You Letters
As part of a Giving in Grace Programme
Saying 'thank you' is courteous and needs no further justification. However, thank you letters also serve other important purposes. In particular the thank you letter helps bridge the gap between a positive intent to respond and translating that response into action: it also builds a relationship with the recipient. For thinking and top tips on the importance of thank you letters see the paper The Value of Appreciation.
A thank you letter should be sent to every person who returns a response form within one week of receiving it. Any subsequent visit to bring information requested by the church member, such as planned giving envelopes or Gift Aid declaration forms is in addition to the thank you letter. Never delay sending out thank you letters in order to combine thanks with the response to a request for additional information.
A response which declines an increase in giving due to circumstances is, of course, an entirely valid response and receives a thank you letter.
Changing Letter Content
Within a Giving in Grace programme, thank you letters also function as the first update on the progress of the Giving in Grace initiative. Respondents are assured that they are not alone, that the initiative has momentum and that they are partners in a cause they share with other people. Because response forms will come in over a number of weeks it may be necessary to change them slightly to reflect the progress of the initiative. The sample letters contain alternative paragraphs; one for a thank you letter that goes out early in the programme and one that goes out much later.
Annual Thank You Letters
Writing to all your donors thanking them for their support should be an annual occurrence. Sometimes, these regular letters are sent by the Gift Aid Secretary to coincide with the end of the tax year and/or the church's Gift Aid claim (example). Regular thank you letters can also form part of an Annual Review. Whether as part of an Annual Review or at some other significant point in the year, it is good practice to regularly thank and inform your members of:
- the church's achievements over the last twelve months
- current activities and involvement with the local community
- future plans, mission and vision
If your church does not currently thank its donors each year, the Giving in Grace programme could be used as a way to introduce annual 'thank you' letters and make them a normal part of church family life.