My mom was a stickler for thank you notes. Anytime my brothers and I received anything from anyone, we knew there would be a thank you note involved. At the time, I didn’t appreciate the importance of thank you notes. I just wanted to get on with enjoying whatever gift I had been given. Didn’t Aunt Florence know I was grateful for Vanessa, the Cabbage Patch Kid she sent me for Christmas? Didn’t Grandma Fisher know that the purple Izod sweater she gave me for my birthday made me feel like the coolest girl in school? Why did I have to express my gratitude in written form?
Somewhere in my late teens the act of writing thank you notes became second-nature. Receive a gift? Write a thank you note. Be the recipient of a kind gesture? Write a thank you note. My mom had trained me well.
Fast forward a few years to present day (okay, maybe more than a few years) and I’ve come to appreciate the thank you note as much as my mom did. I write them, I send them, I understand their importance. It’s about more than being trained well and it’s about more than just being grateful. It’s about telling someone else that I am grateful for whatever it is they did to make my world better.
I’ve noticed that thank you notes impact my willingness to give as well. When I made a donation to a friend’s fundraising efforts, for example, I never received any acknowledgement. I knew he received it because I could see it on his fundraising page, but I never heard a thing from him about it. He’s a young guy, so I wasn’t expecting a long, flowery thank you note. I would have been happy with a text that said “thx”. Not hearing anything will definitely make it easier to say no if he sends another request.
My friend Staci, on the other hand, is the master of the thank you note. It seems like her thank you notes arrive before I’ve even given her whatever it is I was planning to give her. And she’s the kind of person who will send you a thank you note to thank you for sending her a thank you note. Her gratitude is just one of the many reasons why I love her and will always give whenever she asks. She lets me know how I make her world better.
What about you? Are you and your organization masters of the thank you note? Do you let your constituents know how they made your world better? Do you thank them in a timely, personal manner? Donors, fundraisers and volunteers have limitless options for where to spend their time, talents and treasures. It’s risky to assume they know how much you appreciate them. Take the time to write the thank you note. My mom was right, gratitude should be expressed.