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How to Write a Great Impact Letter (Even When Schools are Closed)


When projects are funded, resources delivered, and learning underway, teachers share with donors how funded resources were put to use. Those impact letters, photos, and handwritten student thank-you notes do more than bring a smile to the faces of the millions of donors in our community: They provide transparency, letting them know that their gift was used to benefit students. This gratitude and transparency keeps classroom supporters coming back to support teachers, and even helps us find new supporters for future projects!

Given school closings across the nation, we know finishing thank-you packages right now is especially tricky. We’ve changed thank-you requirements for thousands of teachers to account for these extra challenges; visit our help center for the full details.

The easiest piece of the package to complete from home is definitely the impact letter. Without photos or student-written notes, you still have the chance write an impact letter to your supporters, telling donors how supplies were used by students before school closed — or how they will be used when it opens. Here’s some advice from your fellow teachers on writing a great impact letter while you’re teaching from home.

Tip #1: Write about how support felt to you and your students

Donors give to projects to provide tangible support to students, yes. But they also give a less tangible reason: Classroom supporters tell us again and again they want to send a message loud and clear with each gift to teachers and their kids: We see the vital work you do, and we celebrate you. Whether you have every material you requested or your school closed before you received a single pencil, let donors know how you and your students felt when your project received a gift and you knew supporters were rooting for you.

Writing prompt: Start your letter with: “When I first saw that people had given to my project, I...

Tip #2 Write about the day materials arrived

If your boxes arrived at school but you didn’t have a chance to use the materials in the classroom, try writing about how your students felt when the delivery showed up, like Mrs. Zarate.

Thank you so much for making this project possible for my fantastic first grade students. We received our project materials towards the end of February. The plan was to “dig in” and explore after Spring Break. Sadly, we left and we never were able to return due to COVID-19. I was able to take some photos of my students opening the Cricut machine and other materials. They were in awe of the beautiful Cricut and the various tools that came with it. They were ecstatic to know that so many people supported them and helped fund our project.

Writing prompt: Start your letter with: “The day the boxes arrived, my students felt…”

Tip #3: Write about what your students will do when they are back in school

If you didn’t get a chance to use your materials but you know how your students will use them next year, write that! Here’s the rest of Mrs. Zarate’s letter:

We had so many exciting ideas that we wanted to try out! My students wanted to create class t-shirts, quotes to beautify our classroom, and personalized logos for each of them. Unfortunately, none of that will happen this year.

I will explore and learn how to use and operate the Cricut so that I am equipped to teach my students next year how to use it. The materials are a blessing to my classroom. Even though my students cannot use them right now, they will most definitely be used to foster and encourage creativity.

Writing prompt: Start your letter with: “Next school year, I’m excited to see my students…”

Tip #4: Get specific

If you’re materials are already in use by your students, don’t be afraid to get into the details. When we asked teachers for their advice on writing a great impact letter, the most common answer was “be specific.” Share a story or anecdote, or ask your students on your next video chat how they felt when they learned with their materials. If you haven’t recieved the materials yet, Here’s how two veteran teachers think about it:

I always make sure I am really specific about how I am using the project. I use many descriptive words to help the donors visualize how their generosity has made the difference by helping fund the project. I try and use quotes from my students.

I often pick one funny anecdote from the delivery or student voice to our letter, "Zaire couldn't believe his eyes when the books arrived, he removed his new blue glasses, wiped them off, and looked again - ‘WOWZA!’ he shouted.

Writing prompt: Start your letter with: “When they found out this project was funded, my student told me she can’t wait to…

Inspired to get writing? Visit your teacher hub and scroll down to the “projects” section, then click “Describe the Impact” to get started.

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