Sandy---You asked if we ever had writer’s block? That’s how I felt when I read your post asking us for the right words when it came to donor acknowledgments, among other forms of communication. But now the block has been removed, and you are in for a deluge.
You asked in particular about thank-you letters, then for references to other non-profit, fund-raising-related letters. I’ll try to cover that full range as follows:
However, first and foremost, I believe that the best thank you, regardless the wording, is the one most prompt. A quick acknowledgment shows even more that the gift is appreciated, and that our organization is efficient. The acknowledgment should be in the form of a personalized letter from the campaign chair on his/her business letterhead, that of the organization, or special campaign stationery---perhaps in the following manner:
We are grateful to you for your contribution to (Organization) by way of your check in the amount of ($) to our (Campaign) which we received on (Date). I want to let you know how much we appreciate your generous gift. The money we are raising during this year’s campaign will allow (Organization) to (Cite the objective if a specific campaign or, if general, the positive benefits of fulfilling the Mission Statement.) With your help, that goal will be achieved. Thank you.”
Short, and to the point, but in many instances, we added one simple, but hopefully, appreciated, more personalized statement from among the following examples. We would:
(1) Indicate that their gift arrived in the morning's mail or as recently as possible and it was so important that we wanted to say thank-you as promptly as possible.
(2) Praise their generosity---appreciate the regularity of their donations in applicable instances.
(3) Say how their gift encouraged and raised the morale of the staff, the other professionals, or volunteers who are working in our organization's office.
(4) Tell them that others are also responding as they have and that their particular gift, added to the gifts of others, is having a significant and positive impact on the good work we do.
(5) Give an example of recent positive and uplifting results of one of our programs and services. Enclose a news clipping, photo, press release, etc., as applicable.
(6) Tell them the story of a person (anonymous) who has personally and directly benefited from our organization's programs and services. The donor’s gift helped to make that happen.
(7) Report on a recent special event of whatever kind which was presented by our organization and brought to it favorable credit.
(8) Announce an upcoming or otherwise planned program or service that is to be made possible because of their generous support.
(9) Discuss a societal trend or current event that dramatizes the need for our organization's work, thus reflecting on the donor’s generosity and our appreciation for their continued support. (OK only in this way---but never, never, to resolicit or even hint at one, when saying thank-you for the gift just given.)
(10) Report on the growth of our donor base or the money raised for the year, or year to date---and how we value them being a part of such success.
Finally, here are a few leads to Internet resources which might meet your needs regarding non-profit-related letters in general:
--- A real Authority: Mal Warwick
--- FASTEN: Fundamentals of Fundraising Letters
I hope this helps. No “thank-you” necessary.
; - )