The main responsibility of the Sponsor and Donor relations team was the creation of the Sponsor and Donor Packet, but our work was not yet complete once that task was accomplished. Of equal, or greater importance, was the undertaking to thank major donors for their contributions.
A thank-you letter is a necessity in any fundraising drive. It lays the groundwork for a continuing relationship by establishing an invaluable connection that shows the donor you acknowledge and appreciate the time and money they have provided for you.
Since my teammates and I were housed under the St. Norbert College (SNC) leg of the #givingtuesday fundraiser, we only had to worry about thanking major donors that were associated with SNC. This narrowed it down to drafting a letter for President Brian Bruess and Dr. Carol Bruess.
Like any other piece of professional writing, the final version of the thank-you letter was a collaboration. My teammate Danielle Gardner and I each drafted a thank-you letter to the Bruesses, and Dr. Scheler, in his role as Lead Editor, compiled the best aspects of both and gave the letter a final polish.
When writing my draft of the letter I focused on employing concision and the use of familiar characters to get the message of thanks across to the Bruesses. Thank-you letters should be no longer than one page (2-3 paragraphs), especially for a busy audience like the Bruesses, so both my draft and the final version were kept at that length. Furthermore, thank-you letters should not introduce any new characters that have not been mentioned in past interactions, and should not, for example ask for a further donation. This document’s only purpose was to thank the Bruesses for their contribution to the fundraiser and thus characters were kept simple: the Friends of the Community Garden, the ENGL 306 class, SNC, and the #givingtuesday drive.
My use of these strategies deemed effective since they underwent very little or no editing on the part of Dr. Scheler, meaning that he didn’t see the document lacking any information or the correct purpose. To ground this claim, review my initial draft of the letter compared with a marked-up final version showing which elements came directly from my draft with little to no revision.
While the comparison between my draft and the final version above provides evidence for the effectiveness of my personal work, the final thank-you letter would not have been as effective if it had not been a collaboration. Danielle Gardener’s draft was able to fill in the sentiments/pieces of information that I did not think to add in an initial draft and vice-versa. Danielle focused on adding recognizable pieces of the fundraiser into the rhetoric, such as the tagline Grow Better Together, while my draft’s strength centered around acknowledging the specific ways the Bruesses contributed to our growth as professional writers beyond their monetary donation. Our combined work illustrates our strength in collaboration and made the document stronger. So strong, that Dr. Scheler was able to deliver it to the Bruesses without having to send it back to us for a round of edits. As the Lead Editor, Dr. Scheler is the final stop for a document before it goes out into the world and if it is not professional, of the correct purpose, or off-brand it will be sent back for further work. As this e-mail shows, the thank-you letter was accepted upon the first submission showing that the letter was effective.