Gratitude is powerful.
We've always known this intuitively, but now we have proof from experiments in behavioral psychology as well.
Business school professors Adam Grant and Francesca Gino performed simple experiments involving gratitude. They found that when a student who sent a resume to a fictitious employer got an acknowledgement that included a simple "thank you," the student's self esteem went up. And he or she was more likely to help another student who later asked for help with a cover letter.
In Adam Grant's book, "Give and Take," he recounts how exhausted health care workers, who worked in isolation from the people they helped, became energized again after meeting one of those people. Grant says, "When people know how their work makes a difference, they feel energized to contribute more."
The same is true of donors. When they are thanked and shown how their gift made a difference, they are more likely to give again. Thank you letters and notes are at their best when they make donors feel appreciated and let them know how and who they helped.
How can you make your thank you letters mean more than just words on the page?
Tell stories. Particularly the story of one person, child, or animal whose life was made better through the donor's help.
Here are some examples:
Thanks to you, Michael and his sister, Janet, celebrated Michael's 9th birthday with cake and balloons in a safe and loving place. They are no longer scared and love having their very own rooms.
Thank you for your recent generous gift of $100 to Children's Residential Services of Greater Boston. Your willingness to help displaced children in our community weather the crises in their lives makes all the difference for children just like Michael and Janet.
Thanks to you, we have provided 250 children just this year with a place to live, learn, and feel safe.
Your donation will help purchase new computers for our kids over the next six months. The children are eager for the new computers so that they can do their homework and communicate with friends and family.
The computers are part of our Excellence in Service Campaign that will make our home even nicer for Michael, Janet, and their new friends. You and other people like you have brought us closer to our goal of $50,000 for that campaign.
We would love to give you a tour so you can meet some of the 15 staff and 50 children who are now with us. We love to show off our comfy home, and the children enjoy meeting visitors. One or two might even show you what they can do with their new computers.
Janet Teebs, our development director, is always available to set up a visit for you, or to answer any questions you may have. Don't hesitate to call her at 520-446-0912, or email her at janetteebs@CRS.com.
We would love to keep you in the loop with our emails and newsletter. You can sign up for those at our site, www.crc.org.
Again, thank you for all you do for our kids. You are a part of their lives too.
P.S. We depend on volunteers to help us. If you would like to share your time, just let Janet know, and she will ask our volunteer coordinator to get in touch. We have frequent introductions to our work for volunteers. We would be delighted to see you there.