Eight Reasons This Wikipedia “Thank You” Letter Is Worth Copying

Yes,yes. I know. Copying Wikipedia is a big plagiaristic no-no. But wait, there’s more!

I made a modest donation to the Wikimedia Foundation this week. I had to. In researching and writing, I turn to Wikipedia multiple times per day. I also have contributed content to Wikipedia’s “home invasion” entry, an opportunity that allows me to share information, as well as drive traffic to my website, HomeInvasionNews.

So during their December appeal, I did what I could. Much to my surprise, within minutes I received one of the best thank-you letters to ever cross my digital OR postal mailbox. You’ve really got to copy this one.

Specifically, here are the eight attributes that make this particular thank-you note a copywriter’s dream:

1. Thank-you arrived zoom-zoom, almost as soon as I hit “donate.”

2. The subject line compelled me to read on. “Thank you from the Wikimedia Foundation,” wasn’t brain surgery, but, first, it was a bit of a surprise; and, second, it spoke to somebody who had just parted with her money.

3. The first sentence wowed me: ”You are so fantastic.” That was the lead-in! Not just “fantastic” …  ”SO fantastic.” It’s not something I hear every day and it sure sounded good.

4. At 544 words, this letter told me several things I needed to hear.

  • [Did my donation make a difference?] ”Your donation covers not only your own costs of using Wikipedia, but also the costs of other Wikipedia readers.”
  • [Who's this money helping anyway?] “On behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation, and the half-a-billion Wikipedia readers around the world: thank you.”
  • [Do you care that your pop-up ads are irritating when I'm working on a story?] “You may have noticed that for the first time this year we’ve tweaked our fundraising so that most people will only see the banners a handful of times, instead of for weeks. That’s deliberate: we don’t want people to get irritated by too many appeals.” (That is so nice … and I actually believe it!)
  • [What might I contribute to Wikipedia, beyond forking over money?] “I’d love if you’d try joining us in helping to write Wikipedia. Wikipedia’s written entirely by volunteers — tens of thousands of ordinary people around the world, exactly like us.” (This ordinary person is feeling very special right about now …)
  • [Will this donation disappear down the rat hole?] I very much appreciate your trust in us, and I promise you: we will use your money carefully and well.”

5. The letter was signed by a real person, Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation. I don’t care that she wrote thousands of other people the same letter. It sounded like Sue knows me.

6. The four-line p.s. reinforced the message and thanked me four more ways: a) suggested I check to see if my company might have a matching gift program for employee donations; b) cited Wikimedia’s social media links and blog; c) offered me Wikimedia’s annual report, annual plan, and five-year strategic plan; d) told me about shop.wikimedia.org. Moreover, unlike less well-crafted fundraising postscripts, this one offered me more and asked for nothing.

7. Helped my IRS record-keeping  by noting the amount and record number of my tax-deductible donation.

8. The letter contained an opt-out option — not necessary for a thank-you letter, but gracious.

I’m an ardent Wikipedia supporter, passionately grateful for this motherlode of free information, instantly accessible to everyone, everywhere, in the precise moment of need. This lovely “thank you” reminded me of Wikipedia’s important work. So, thank YOU, Sue Gardner!

This labelling news was spotted at The Digital Nirvana
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