An attitude of gratitude. Do you share your thanks, show appreciation, and gratitude to your staff, donors, volunteers, and community partners? Do you have the time or even know where to begin?

I know that I am appreciated by my family and my clients and those in our online community, but it still brings a smile to my face when people in my world take the time to share those thoughts with me via a text, phone call, email, or snail mail. It’s just nice! I can probably quote some of the kind, simple notes I have received this year from folks in my world, and from people in our online community that I have not had the pleasure of meeting in person just yet.

Have you thought about your own “attitude of gratitude” towards the many volunteers, staff, partners and contributors who support your 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 can be hard to maintain an attitude of gratitude and remember to show appreciation.

It’s tough. I get it. We worked with a client whose book keeper is only on-site every other week for a few hours and expects the deposits to be complete so she can allocate contributions and prepare acknowledgement letters during her office time.  Due to the small team of part-time staff it simply isn’t reasonable to think they can call every single person, every single time they make a contribution before deposits are taken to the bank. (it’s definitely a goal to strive for, but not always 100% doable)

Despite the challenges, this group does recognize that it does not matter how grateful they are for a contribution if they don’t show appreciation to the donor.

“Feeling gratitude, and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward

Life gets busy and things fall by the wayside. We get that. The amazing thing about expressing gratitude is that it’s never too late. That’s good to know, right?

While a shortage in staff and volunteers are all-to-common, putting out fires happens more than we’d like, and there are never enough hours in a day, there are some strategies you can implement so donors feel appreciated:

  1. Get board members and volunteers involved in writing thank-you notes.
  2. Set aside a few hours every month (better yet, every week) to call organization members or donors from that month to extend a personal thank-you.
  3. Acknowledge generous gifts of time/talents/sponsorship on social media.
  4. Invite dedicated supporters/community partners to coffee or lunch just to show appreciation
  5. Extend special invitations to donors for your upcoming events
  6. Acknowledge donors in an annual impact report, newsletter, or other outreach to highlight how their contribution impacted lives (with their permission).
  7. Plan one of your annual donor touches to be a volunteer appreciation communication.
  8. Create a donor-relations plan that includes a minimum of 7 donor-touches annually so you already have a plan in-hand when the year starts (segment donor touches when possible).

Be sure to strategize how you can also show gratitude to your staff, board members, and volunteers as well. Each organization will have different resources and opportunities for showing appreciation. Think outside the box! I’m sure you’ll come up with some very creative ideas.

There is a proverb that states “Give thanks for a little, and you will find a lot.”

During the upcoming 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.

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