Thought Leadership

Thanks. Thank You. I Appreciate It.


I love November. It’s the calm before the end of year rush. The time after the back to school chaos. A moment for family and friends. The month I met my wife. One that’s full of sports and delicious food. And let’s not forget, it’s the month that kicks off the annual season of giving. 

November’s also a great time to pause and reflect on how you’re expressing gratitude, both personally and professionally. It’s something I do every November – take a moment to inventory everything that has happened and how that makes me feel. To recognize all of the people I’m grateful to have in my life and to let them know I appreciate them. How I can show them what they mean to me. To think about what I can do to help others.

This practice allows me to set the tone for and mentally kick off the holidays. It energizes me for the end of year rush. It empowers me to do better, be better and it reminds me of all the things around me that have led me to where I am today. 

A Challenge

I want to challenge everyone reading this to take a look at your “thank you” messages and the ways you show gratitude to those who support your work, those who donate to your cause, or that you’re just grateful for, and to answer these three questions honestly. 

  1. Are you phoning in your “thank you”? 
  2. Does the person you’re thanking really know the impact they’re making?  
  3. Is there another way you could express gratitude?

Depending on your answers to these questions, it might make sense to revisit or tweak the way you say “thank you” and the way you show gratitude. 

The Impact of a “Thank You”

Earlier this year I wrote an article about the power of a “thank you” and how communications of gratitude can turn impulse support into conscious choice. In this post I asked a lot of “what if” questions: 

  • What if nonprofits were more integrated? 
  • What if organizations could provide the gratitude given to major donors to everyday supporters? 
  • What if the “thank you” message was as important as the “can you” message?”

I asked these questions as a way to think about the fact that only about 20% of first time donors will make a second gift. I asked them to prompt a discussion about how organizations can use technology and break down internal silos to get that important second gift. I asked these questions to shift the lens that nonprofits often use when approaching the “thank you” messages for everyday donors.

I raise these questions here as the topic of gratitude is top of mind. I recently listened to an episode of the Nonprofit Radio Show titled “The power of a thank you” where the hosts talk about all the ways to say thanks. They discuss different types of thank yous – from the have-to to the want-to to the get-to. 

There’s an art (and a science) to authentically saying thanks and showing gratitude. It’s something that when done right can turn supporters into lifetime cause champions. And when done wrong can have no impact at all. It’s possible to turn these “what if” questions into “look at how” statements and there’s no better time than now to do that. 

Taking Inventory

November’s a great time to take inventory of the ways that you thank those who support you. Those who make your mission possible. Those who stand beside you to make the world a better place every day. It’s a great time to make sure that your “thank you” truly articulates impact. That it shows gratitude. That it encourages people to keep up the support and lets them know how they can continue to make an impact. 

We all have a lot to be thankful for. There’s no better time than today to take a moment and say it. To take a day (or two or three) to ensure that your email sequences show it. To take a week and make sure that your supporters feel it.

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