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Cold & Heartless: A Naked Contribution Statement

Each year as I receive contribution statements from the charities that I supported in the previous year, I am always surprised.


As I open them, I am shocked that some are naked.


A naked contribution statement is a printed statement of the donor's gifts for the previous year without any kind of thanks or mention of the nonprofit's "big story.”

Naked contribution statements point to an overall lack of appreciation for a donor's giving and hinder the size of their next gifts. With a little effort, a short letter along with the donor's giving history for the year that includes the organization's "big story" can make a big difference in future donations.


Your nonprofit's "big story" consists of two messages:

1. That your donor is needed

2. That your donor's giving makes a difference.


I call an annual contribution statement without a thank you and the nonprofit's big story a "naked" statement!


A naked contribution statement in the mail is cold and heartless.


I am shocked at the nonprofits that send out a "naked" statement without reinforcing these two values.


Never send out a contribution statement outlining the donor’s giving for the previous year without saying thank you, you are needed, and your giving made a difference.


All nonprofits should send the annual contribution statement with a one-page "news-letter."


A "news-letter" is just a one-page personal letter with:

A short personal greeting

A statement telling the donor that this letter is about their impact

A summary of their impact

A story introduction

A story about one beneficiary

A bragging statement of the donor's generosity

A thank you

A signature (from one person)

A scannable headline with the word "You" in it

A high ratio of "you" to "we/us/I" - at least 2:1


  1. ANY mention of the organization's name in the copy.

DON'T TALK ABOUT YOURSELF. This letter is about the donor and the impact of their giving.

Everywhere your letter has "I/we/us" or your nonprofit's name, SCRATCH IT OUT AND REPLACE IT WITH "YOU."

2. Any mention of the donor helping the organization:

DON'T say things like, "Thanks for helping us as we helped people..."

The donor didn't give to your organization; THEY GAVE TO MAKE AN IMPACT IN PEOPLE'S LIVES. Instead, say, "YOU helped people…."

3. Any mention of the organization doing anything:

Say NOTHING about what your organization has accomplished. Say EVERYTHING about what the donor did. Yes, give THE DONOR credit FOR EVERYTHING THAT WAS ACCOMPLISHED!

One of my clients, Redeemed Living, did a great letter. Follow their example!

Another friend of mine who always does a stellar job is Pastor Jamie Nunnally here in my home city.

Never send out a naked contribution statement!



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