This week my daughter, who is in first grade, brought home a colorful turkey carefully carved out of paper plates and construction paper. On each of the turkey’s long plumes she had carefully written something for which she is thankful. It brought a smile to my face to see “mama and daddy” written on one feather and “baby sister” on another. My little one was proud of her artwork and promptly found a prominent spot on the fridge to hang up her “Thankfulness Turkey” because she didn’t want us to forget!
I know that my daughter loves our family, but it still brought a smile to my face to see how she took the time to put those thoughts on paper. Now, every time I open the fridge, her artwork makes me smile all over again. This got me thinking about my own “attitude of gratitude” towards the many volunteers and contributors who support my nonprofit on a daily basis.
I love the motto “thank before you bank” because it helps us prioritize. The donor relationship is primary, and the dollars given are secondary, but it is often difficult to remember this as we struggle to keep doors open.
It’s tough. I get it. Currently our book keeper is only on-site every other week for a few hours and she expects my deposits to be complete so she can allocate contributions and prepare acknowledgement letters during her office time. We have a small team of part-time staff and it simply isn’t reasonable to think that we can call every single person, every single time they make a contribution before I carry the deposit to the bank.
Despite the challenges, we do recognize that it does not matter how grateful we are for a contribution if we don’t express it to the donor.
“Feeling gratitude, and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
– William Arthur Ward
I will be the first to admit that I have failed miserably in the area of giving thanks…especially when life gets hectic and our staff is stretched too thin. The amazing thing about expressing gratitude is that it’s never too late.
While I personally do not have the capacity to physically call or write a thank you note to every donor, every single week there are strategies I am working to implement so our donors feel appreciated:
1. Get board members involved in writing thank you notes.
2. Set aside a few hours every month to call organization members or donors from that month to extend a personal thank you.
3. Acknowledge generous gifts of time/talents/sponsorship on our social media page.
4. Invite dedicated supporters/community partners to coffee or lunch just to show appreciation
5. Extend special invitations to donors to your upcoming events
6. Acknowledge donors in an annual impact report, newsletter, or other outreach to highlight how their contribution impacted lives.
There is a proverb that states
“Give thanks for a little, and you will find a lot.”
During this season of giving thanks, I encourage you to recognize those around you and commit yourself to adopting an attitude of gratitude year round. Be intentional. Be creative. Be grateful.
At the end of the day we can’t accomplish our mission alone and thankfully we don’t have to.