By Karen Kegg
My husband and I renewed our wedding vows this summer with family and a few friends attending. For a gift, my sister-in-law gave us a decorative gratefulness jar to remind us how grateful we should be for each other and our family. It’s a decorative jar that you place notes of gratefulness in when you aren’t feeling encouraged about life. In other words, it reminds you to stop and acknowledge what you are truly thankful for and to actually write it down and save.
All of us are thankful for different things. I believe individuals who give of themselves to causes that are important are truly expressing gratefulness for what they have been given. Genuine gratefulness comes when you realize you do not deserve it. Nonprofits appreciate the support given to them but are they not always good expressing genuine gratefulness. Knowing a donor’s specific motivation for giving can be a guide to appropriate expressions of gratefulness.
I often hear from donors that they feel the nonprofits they support treat them like “ATM machines,” only hearing from them when the organizations need something. Many past donors tell us they gave a gift and have never received a personal thank you note. Sad, but true! Taking donors for granted is not what we ever intend to do, but it happens.
As nonprofit professionals, what is our best course of action? Start by articulating to your donors how much you appreciate their gifts, telling why their gifts are so important to the mission they believe in. Then, add a story telling how their gifts were specifically used to benefit those you serve. This act of gratitude pays immediate dividends and will set the stage to provide your organization additional gifts in the future. Donors want to feel that they have made a difference in the lives of others and they want to be acknowledged.
So, think about placing a gratefulness jar in your organization’s office. Encourage each other to acknowledge what they are thankful for by writing it down. When things get tough, pull those notes out and remember gratefulness leads to true happiness!