If you’re a fan of late-night talk show host Jimmy Fallon, you know he sets aside time every Friday night to write thank you letters. I think of it as “TYIF” (“Thank You It’s Friday). Jimmy’s notes are usually creative and thought-provoking, like “Thank you, emails that say “You have successfully unsubscribed from these emails,” for completely missing the point. One of his band members plays some soothing music that’s conducive to thank you writing – after a while, the music alone is enough to get you in a grateful, thank-you-writing mood!
What if your nonprofit did the same thing?!
If you want your donors to stay uplifted by their philanthropy then you’ve got to practice gratitude continually, as a way of life.
What if your organization set aside 15 minutes every Friday for “TYIF” note-writing, thank you calls, texts, tweets, emails or whatever medium you think will do the job with your particular intended recipients? Imagine someone came over the loudspeaker every Friday at 4:00 p.m. and said “It’s TYIF time!” You could even have some music piped in to set the proper mood.
Or have someone come around with a tray of cookies and milk, or a fun new gel pen, or (fill in your creative idea here) to mark the event and inspire folks to take a TYIF break.
Wouldn’t this be a nice way, after a hard week of work, to head into the week-end? What a great way to get everyone on staff feeling good about themselves and each other – not to mention the donors or other folks who get thanked!
Now, all you have to do each Friday is ask yourself: “Who deserves an extra hug this week?” It may be a donor, a volunteer, another staff member or even a vendor. These are the folks who make your work easier, happier and more meaningful. Don’t they deserve a virtual hug in the form of a little thank you note?
Each day, make it a practice to think hard about who you’re grateful to that day.
Jot the name(s) down so you remember to thank these folks when your planned “gratitude time” comes around. If “TYIF” won’t work for you, here’s another suggestion (something I used to do before I was a consultant). I would keep five note cards on top of the desk each week. Make it a goal to use one each day for the purposes of sending a heartfelt thank you. If at the end of your week the cards are still sitting there, you’ve failed. Don’t give up! Simply try another regimen until you find one that works for you.
I’ve also tried setting aside 15 minutes at the end of each day to make thank you phone calls or send thank you emails. Again, you just brainstorm who deserves a nice embrace that day. Then you make the call/send the email. And, by all means, leave a warm message if your recipient doesn’t pick up the phone. It still does the trick of holding your donor close.
Bringing gratitude into your work life will yield enumerable benefits – for you and your donors.
There’s something magical about it. In fact, psychological research on gratitude reveals that folks who were recipients of a single act of gratitude immediately felt a 10% increase in happiness and a 35% reduction in depression. Wow! The other thing about gratitude is that it’s reciprocal. When people think about and write down what they’re grateful for, their personal happiness increases as well. Gratitude is contagious. Once it takes off, it spreads.
When you thank your donor two people get rewarded, and you’re one of them. Pretty cool, don’t you think?
Want More Creative Gratitude Ideas?
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Thank you for this insightful post. What a great suggestion to take Fallon’s recurring sketch and turn it into something positive for donors everywhere!
Thanks Kathie. Glad you approve. 🙂
Gratitude is definitely something that I embrace every day. Love the idea of setting aside a moment each Friday to make sure it happens. It’s also a great way to engage Board Members in a positive way…they love making “thank you” phone calls, it’s energizing. Thank YOU for your thoughtful insights.
Agree. I’ve never had a board member not be happy after making a thank you call. And it’s a great way to get one’s feet wet, and learn that donors are just people — like the rest of us. Thanks Linda!