Recently, I had a guest in my office. During our conversation, he mentioned how we tend to do a poor job when it comes to saying thank you. He observed that his particular field, fundraising within the faith community, seems to have a thank-you issue. I told him I, unfortunately, agreed!
In my new book, The Intentional Board, I wrote about what I call The Law of the Slight Edge. The law states that a slight adjustment — even as small as one degree — can make a huge impact. Saying thank you the right way is one small adjustment that can lead to such an impact.
We’re trained from youth to say thank you, even if we do so feebly or halfheartedly much of the time. That obligatory note to Aunt Bertha for the sweater you got for Christmas. Or the mumbled, “Thanks, Mom…” when your mother got you out of a tight spot with one of your friends.
The real question we should ask ourselves, when in the role of fundraiser, is how we can make our thank-you stand out! The best way to do this is to make our show of thanks fit the gift and fit the giver. This means that our expression of gratitude can and probably should look different in each situation.
In a well-run development shop, the thank you process is like clockwork. A gift comes in and a gift acknowledgment goes out — it’s routine. When that happens, we’ve done our duty. . . but we haven’t done any more than our duty! Sincere gratitude goes beyond duty.
Recently, I was asked by a colleague to join her as a speaker on a national webinar. Because I admire and respect her so much, I was happy to say yes. I did the webinar, and a few days later, a small package arrived in the mail. It was a container of peanuts with a short note expressing her thanks.
She didn’t have to send anything. I was happy to have even been asked! But she took the extra step and sent something personal. This did two key things. First, it made me feel valued. Secondly, it made me much more likely to say “yes” to future requests from her.
An exceptional thank you is easy to do, but we often don’t follow through because it is easier not to. Whether it’s at Thanksgiving or any Tuesday in April, I hope that we are mindful to show gratitude to those in our lives who are so deserving of it.
Family or friends, volunteers or the staff who make your work fun and meaningful, I challenge you to express your appreciation to someone who deserves it this season!
And I hope you know that I’m thankful for you.
America’s ASKing Coach