When people make a gift, the donor should be acknowledged the same day by a phone call and follow up with a heartfelt personal note, preferably hand written, within 4-7 days. The gift letter of acceptance acknowledgement for the donor to use for claiming their IRS tax deduction can follow. This simple immediate act may be the thing that distinguishes you as a grateful recipient from other causes that the donor may give to and will predispose that donor to give to you again. This kind of follow-up requires staff support and discipline but is the most personal and effective way of connecting with and cultivating the donor.
Thank you letters and phone calls don't have to come from only the superintendent. Hearing from a park staff person or program manager that benefited directly from a gift is a very powerful connection to the park for the donor.
There are also very personal high impact format notes that can be custom tailored and sent now through electronic cards transmitted through email.