Using thank you receipt letters to grow champions

Our theme this week is ‘Simple steps you can take to move from transactional fundraising to Transformational Giving in your existing development program’.

Yesterday we highlighted a cool brochure (I think that’s the first time I used those two words in the same sentence).

Today we visit the wonderful world of thank you receipting in order to give a quick shout out to Amy Karjala, the Director of Development of Seoul USA,  the organization my wife and I founded that has soooooooo moved beyond that I need to stop referring to it that way.

(Amy also helped me to write the Coach Your Champions book, so when it comes to Transformational Giving she knoweth of what she speaketh.)

In any case, Amy’s doing something really cool with the Seoul USA thank you receipt letters: she’s using them to grow champions, not just thank them.

Thank you receipt letters are far and away the most opened pieces of mail we send to champions. Weird, then, that we slave over our fund raising appeal letters and acquisition letters but typically spend about 2.5 minutes writing the thank you note for the month.

Not so Amy.

Amy is jettisoning the time-honored (and thus nonsensical) practice of writing thank you letters by month (e.g., the May thank you letter, the June thank you letter, etc).

Instead, she is writing a thank you letter series, in which champions receive letter #1 in response to their first gift, letter #2 in response to their second gift, and so on. Each thank you letter is oriented toward providing the champion with a progressively practical bite-size growth morsel related to the cause and how the champion can impact it.

Most nonprofits do a specialized thank you letter for first-time givers. Many do specialized thank you letters for designated gifts. Amy’s approach takes that to the next level by enabling the first paragraph to be customized related to the gift intent before transitioning to an intentional lesson or equipping moment in the rest of the letter. She balances the thank you and the coaching lesson very nicely, and the lesson never comes across as an ask but rather as a ‘Since you sent us all that money, you might be interested in this opportunity to further impact the cause in your sphere of influence’ moment.

This is a great example of how coaching your champions can be scaled for a nonprofit with a large network of champions.

(Of course, a large nonprofit might respond by saying, ‘Yeah, but our receipting process doesn’t enable us to customize thank you letters that way.’ To which I respond, ‘If there’s ever a process worth reworking to enable maximum personalized interaction with your champions, it’s the receipting process.’)

As Seoul USA champions recognize that the thank you letter contains something even better than a receipt for tax purposes or a Crackerjack toy surprise, I expect the piece to assume even more primacy that it already does in the typical development program.

About Pastor Foley

The Reverend Dr. Eric Foley is CEO and Co-Founder, with his wife Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, supporting the work of persecuted Christians in North Korea and around the world and spreading their discipleship practices worldwide. He is the former International Ambassador for the International Christian Association, the global fellowship of Voice of the Martyrs sister ministries. Pastor Foley is a much sought after speaker, analyst, and project consultant on the North Korean underground church, North Korean defectors, and underground church discipleship. He and Dr. Foley oversee a far-flung staff across Asia that is working to help North Koreans and Christians everywhere grow to fullness in Christ. He earned the Doctor of Management at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio.
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5 Responses to Using thank you receipt letters to grow champions

  1. Presley Reader says:

    Eric (and Amy),

    Thanks for sharing this great idea. I am wondering if you would be willing to post a sample of one or two of these letters?



  2. Spence says:

    I second Presley’s request!


  3. EFoley says:

    Your wish is my command! Here’s a sample letter. As you’ll see, the discipline Amy is tackling in this one is prayer:

    Dear ,

    Thank you for your generous gift of $. To use the apostle Paul’s prayer, “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you” [Romans 1:8]. Your commitment to transforming lives in North Korea makes you an essential part of the Seoul USA network of champions.

    And, as you know, prayer is a crucial part of being a Seoul USA champion! As a network, nothing can bring us together quite like prayer can—linking hearts across nations toward a common purpose and passion.

    I’ve been reading Isaiah 62, when God tells us “You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest, and give Him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth.” [Isaiah 62:6-7]. Do you think we can replace the word “Jerusalem” with “Pyongyang,” North Korea’s capital city?

    I think so. God is calling us to restlessly pray to ask Him not to forget North Korea. Together, let’s cry out to God for the restoration of North Korea, so that the world may see His love and grace. Are you ready to take this all-important step as a Seoul USA champion? Then, join me and other Seoul USA champions on our knees.

    How can you be praying? Because we’re in the final stages of printing the first-ever widely distributed full Bible in the North Korean dialect of the Korean language, you can pray that…

    • The Bibles will land in the hands of people ready, willing and able to spread the Gospel;
    • The North Koreans who receive the Bibles, both in North Korea and in China, will remain safe;
    • God will prepare the hearts of the North Koreans who will hear His words for the first time.

    On our knees for North Korea,

    Matt Dubois

    P.S. Ready to do more? Request a 30-day North Korean prayer guide at . The guide was written by North Koreans to teach us how to pray for North Korea.

  4. Presley Reader says:


    Fantastic; thanks!


  5. tseongyosa says:

    It sounds like you are taking some good steps toward coaching your champions!

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