Unlike many people these days who don't always appreciate the art of saying thank you, people who work in nonprofits are schooled in that discipline. Why? Well, it's the best way to keep friends and donors, and that's just for starters.
There's a wonderful Girl Scout song about friends (yes, I worked for the Girl Scouts). It's worth remembering these words:
Make new friends,
but keep the old.
One is silver,
the other is gold.
Let's all remember on this Thanksgiving the awesome power of gratitude, saying thanks, and how much our long-time friends mean to us and our organizations.
Here are five ways to remember to say thank you in our nonprofit lives. I'm sure there are many more, but just picking one and following through will do much to honor the season and win friends.
1. Thank a donor. Phone, write, email, text, make a personal call, hold a donor event - just do something and do it often. Yes, maybe long term donors and those who give a lot are thanked more lavishly, but any donor of any means is worth thanking sincerely, promptly, and personally, every time they give. Donors want to be appreciated and to know how their gift is making a difference.
2. Thank a volunteer. How often should you express your gratitude to your volunteers? As many times as you can. Send a small gift, take a volunteer to lunch, write a thank you note, send a birthday card expressing your thanks for their work. Thanking and recognition are not the same thing. Even if you have special events where you publicly thank your volunteers, think of the many ways you can say thanks in between those opportunities. Keep your volunteers motivated with an abundance of thanks.
3. Send a thank you to a foundation for considering your grant proposal. Even if you get turned down for a grant, you should thank the grantor for the opportunity. Relationships are just as important in grant seeking as they are in any other type of fundraising.
4. Say thanks to your social media friends. Social media is a wonderful way to reward and thank people. Do it often and sincerely. When in doubt, thank people for writing, commenting, referring, linking, and for passing on good information. Your social media world will grow to the degree you remember to say thanks.
5. Thank a reporter or a blogger for writing about your organization. As a blogger, I can tell you that it is hard work. Plus, they are all pitched hundreds of times each month. When he or she singles out your pitch for follow up, it deserves a hearty thank you. At the very least, send an email, and when possible mail a thank you note or send a postcard. Even though we're all online, it's surprising how something in the mail can memorialize your cause.
How are you expressing your gratitude this Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season?
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