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Best Practice

Gift Acknowledgments: Standard Centralized Process and Best Practices


Stewarding Donors
| 10 minutes to read
Last Updated: 08-25-2021

Summary

This is an overview of types of and timing for WFAA acknowledgments of gifts and pledges. It also includes links to more in-depth acknowledgment process details and a sample thank-you letter template.

Key Takeaways

  • Thanking supporters for their generosity to the university is one of the most important ways we can steward our donors.
  • WFAA has a standard approach to acknowledging donor gifts.
  • Units on campus are encouraged to use the Donor Acknowledgment Report to develop and execute their schedule and approach to thanking donors for gifts

Thanking supporters for their generosity to the university is one of the most important ways we can steward our donors. The Donor Acknowledgment Report can be used to produce a merge file for donors to your funds. As a best practice, we recommend not including the gift dollar amount in the donor’s acknowledgment letter (unless they have specifically requested it). We recommend sending an acknowledgment letter for pledge initiations and the last payment on a pledge (rather than for every single payment).

Here is a chart of standard Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association (WFAA) acknowledgments of donor gifts and pledges. See below for links to more in-depth acknowledgment process details.

Stewardship Practice

Owner

Notes/Frequency

Standard, branded tax receipt and acknowledgment for all gifts

WFAA Gift Processing Team

1–10 Business Days

  • Online giving websites provide an e-receipt immediately and no mail receipt is generated.
  • All other giving channels provide a hard copy mail receipt within 2 to 10 business days.

Chancellor’s office acknowledgment for all outright gifts, pledges, and deferred gifts of $100,000 or more

 

WFAA

Monthly

Chancellor’s office acknowledgment for all gifts

WFAA

Monthly

WFAA president/CEO acknowledgment for gifts, pledges, and deferred gifts of $25,000 or more

WFAA

Monthly

Gift acknowledgment for all deferred gifts and Wisconsin Legacy Society welcome

WFAA Office of Gift Planning

Monthly

Acknowledgment from unit/WFAA for all gifts and pledges of $1,000 or more

Unit/WFAA

At least monthly; sent from dean, department chair, center/institute director or director of development

Acknowledgment of gifts and pledges below $1,000

Unit/WFAA

Optional; units may determine their own minimum gift thresholds

Gift acknowledgments are loaded into ABE

WFAA/Unit

Optional; units may determine their own minimum gift thresholds

Athletic priority seating confirmation

WFAA Gift Processing Team

Weekly

Donor-advised fund letters for all donor-directed gifts

WFAA Gift Processing Team

Weekly

Matching-gift confirmation letters

WFAA Gift Processing Team

Monthly

Welcome acknowledgment for first-time donors to the university

WFAA Stewardship/Annual Giving

Monthly

Process

Letters and Communication

Stewardship Letters and Communication — Best Practices and Inspiration

Consider a personalized opening.

This can work well with the right donor, so don’t be afraid to be creative. Perhaps “You made my day!” instead of traditional openers like “Thank you for …” Doing this is a good way to capture someone’s attention and make them feel special by saying, “We simply couldn’t have done this without you.”

Let your donor know they are part of something important.

Remind them that they are a part of a larger community doing remarkable things and changing lives. Doing this can help celebrate the positive feelings of generosity associated with giving to a cause bigger than themselves.

Illustrate their impact.

Show the value of their gift by explaining the impact it will have and how their contribution will help. This will mean a lot (and possibly encourage further giving without having to make another ask).

Share even small progress.

Show donors that they matter regardless of the amount they’ve donated. Take a moment to explain how their gift is instigating positive change and helping to advance the UW.

Thank them again.

It never hurts to thank them twice. Your first thank-you was for their previous action of donating. Aim your second thank-you toward the future: express your gratitude to them for being part of your community — part of something special — and tell them you look forward to your work together.

Below is a sample stewardship letter that can serve as a jumping-off point for you as you write your own, personalized thank-you letters.


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