In-memoriam donation thank-you letter samples

Top tips


By Lisa Sargent.

Lisa Sargent

As head of Sargent Communications, Lisa Sargent helps nonprofits raise more money and keep more donors through better donor communications. A creative strategist and copywriter, Lisa works exclusively with nonprofits on direct mail, email fundraising and donor care communications – acquisition appeals, annual reports, proposals, welcome packages, e-appeals, newsletters, thank-you letters and more.

Lisa’s articles have been featured in Mal Warwick’s newsletter, FundRaising Success Magazine and The Agitator.  Lisa also publishes The Loyalty Letter, a free e-newsletter for nonprofit and charitable organisations read by subscribers around the world.

More from this author:

These letters are part of Lisa Sargent’s thank-you letter clinic: How to write lively memorial donation thank-you letters.



Civil Service Benevolence Fund (CSBF), UK




Save the Children, Australia




Community and Home Assistance to Seniors (CHATS), Canada




Habitat for Humanity, USA




Boys and Girls Aid, USA




SPCA of Franklin County, USA



The Foundation Fighting Blindness, USA



The basics of donation thank yous: 101

In the memorial thank-you letter samples included with this clinic, I refer readers to the previous thank-you letter clinics, because they contain basic formatting tips you should be applying to all your thank yous. The list below contains the top ten. For more, refer toSOFII’s first donation thank-you letter clinic here.

1) Personalise. Thank-you letters should not start with ‘Dear Friend.’


2) Avoid design tricks. A thank you is from one person to another. No need for crazy bold fonts and underlining and italics.


3) Consider font and format: serif for print, sanserif for electronic thank yous. (Although recent research says the latter isn’t necessarily the best.)


4) Structure for readability: indent your paragraphs if possible. Keep all paragraphs at seven lines or less. Vary length of paragraphs, i.e. two lines, four lines, seven lines, one line. Use healthy page margins, justified left/ragged right.


5) Keep it brief. One page, one side, is plenty.


6) Use more ‘you’ than ‘we’. Focus your thank you on benefits and show the donor how he or she is helping.


7) Use an engaging start. Just like a good fundraising appeal, you want to draw the reader into your thank you. Nothing says you have to start with ‘thank you’ or ‘on behalf of’.


8) Add a contacts and update paragraph. How will the donor next hear from you – via  a quarterly newsletter, annual report, what and when? And include a phone number and email they can use to contact you.


9) Use a top-level signatory, president, CEO, etc.


10) Add a PS. I’ve said it before: postscripts get read, even in emails. So use them to direct readers to your website, to extend an invitation to tour your facility, to update donors on a story in the appeal that prompted the gift. Get creative and always add a final thank you.

Thank you letters

Thank you very much making theses letters and Lisa's comments and recomendations available.
I have just been reviewing our donor letters from a Planned Giving perspective and I look forward to using and testing many of Lisa's ideas.

Thank you.

Please keep us posted!

Dear DG,
Love to hear that you're going to test some of these ideas. Will you please let us know how it turns out? Thanks!
Lisa Sargent

how many should receive memorial donation letter?

Am preparing to send letter to family of woman in whose name a memorial donation was received. How many letters should go out? To whom? I'd be sending it to the spouse if he was still alive but he's not. Do I send to every one of five adult children? Both her remaining adult siblings and spouses?

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