Non-profit donor letter

Before: An invitation that’s all about the arrangements.

It’s a pretty common scenario: a company (or, in this case, a local non-profit) throws a party for honored guests as a “thank you” for their support. After this client had drafted their invitation letter, they knew it needed … something. But they weren’t sure exactly what.

So they called me, asking if I would take a look at it. Simply put, my task was to give it just the right tone to communicate their gratitude to this special group and persuade more people to attend.

When I received their draft, two things struck me. First, information about when and where the party was being held, who was invited, and whom guests should RSVP to was scattered throughout the letter. That was easy enough to fix.

Second, though, was a much more subtle problem: the letter launched right into the event details, so the emphasis was on the party, not the guests. Since these were members of an elite donor group, we wanted to be sure that these guests understood how valuable their contributions to this organization were. And we wanted to encourage them to bring like-minded people along so they could “catch the vision” of this group.

All in all, the letter needed to be turned on its head, so to speak, to put the emphasis in the right place (or, rather, on the right people).

So, how do you do that?

After: An invitation that’s all about the guests.

Some of the work involved simply re-arranging information. Putting the what, when, where, etc., in a table for easy access solved the problem of details being scattered throughout the letter. Now, everything’s accessible at a glance.

But the biggest change is how the letter starts: with a heartfelt “thank you” to a very special group of people who helped this non-profit achieve its mission for another successful year.

The second paragraph continues by emphasizing that the party is an expression of the non-profit’s gratitude for this group’s support. And the third paragraph invites them to … well, invite more people!


“We struggled for just the right words to say in our annual donor appreciation event invitation, but our version never sounded quite right. Deborah was able to add some warmth and sincerity to our message, and I think we will have better attendance at our event because of her help.”

Danette Richards
Executive Director
Women’s Business Center of Southern Alabama

To quote the WBC’s Director, the changes made the letter warmer. And when you’re saying “thank you” to a special group like this, that’s a good thing.

Lesson: This letter is a good example of why “who is your audience” is an even more important question than “what do you want to say.” That’s because who your reader is will dictate not only what you say, but how you say it.

Here, a deceptively simple re-arrangement – saying “thank you” first – makes all the difference.