“Feeling grateful or appreciative of someone or something in your life actually attracts more of the things that you appreciate and value into your life.”
(Internationally known author)
Gratitude is the cornerstone of the nonprofit community and is often taken far too casually. The nature of nonprofit work is built on the generosity of people who want to make a difference in the World. Donors see their gift as an investment in special organizations that they believe can have an impact and will use their gift wisely. Most gifts come in the form of financial gifts, volunteer time or through passionate employees who work in understaffed organizations for low pay. Another form of giving is through the tireless work of dedicated board members who give both time and money. Neglecting to express a sincere form of gratitude for any of these gifts is totally unacceptable and could result in their potential loss.
Studies show that the number one reason nonprofits lose donors is due to donors feeling unappreciated. Too many times nonprofit organizations depend on the same old poorly worded response letters mailed long after the gift was received to express their gratitude. Acknowledging a donor should never be viewed as an IRS function. Donors expect and deserve a quick and meaningful expression of gratitude. Well thought out letters that change often are a good start, but many organizations are finding that by following up the letter with a phone call can really engage the donor on a personal level. Organizations that build long term relationships with the donor will be rewarded with greater levels of giving and a better chance at a planned gift. The rule of gratitude for donors is to thank them, thank them, thank them and then thank them again.
Attracting volunteers is one of the best ways a nonprofit can truly create advocates for their organization. Volunteers usually give both of their time and money. Smart nonprofit organizations will have programs to recruit volunteers and find meaningful ways the volunteer can work to feel apart of the organization’s mission. Gratitude for a volunteer comes in the form of the good feelings they get when they feel they had a part in making a difference with their efforts. These good feelings should be reinforced through the gratitude expressed to the volunteers from the nonprofit organization. Something as simple as a post event evaluation meeting where the volunteers receive special recognition will go a long way in insuring that they will be there the next time you need them.
People who chose nonprofit work on a professional level are very special people indeed. Working with a small nonprofit that has a very tight budget usually means working for lower wages in a tight, understaffed office. For these hardy soles, the mission is more important than the money. Although they are paid staff, they usually give a lot more than the time they are paid. The board members and directors should have a daily practice of expressing gratitude to the hard working staff that spends their day in the “trenches” doing the services of the nonprofit.
The nonprofit Board of Directors is usually a group of highly skilled individuals who were invited to volunteer their time because of the expertise they bring to the organization. Being part of a board is a high honor, but is a serious undertaking and many times comes with the request for a “sacrificial” donation. Gratitude for board members usually happens from being part of a growing organization and the community recognition they receive from their serving on the board. Opening every board meeting with a story of how the organization is having an impact on the community underscores to the board members that their work is making a difference.
Gratitude needs to be a focus for each of us in our daily lives. Gratitude can also be a focus for nonprofit organizations that receive so much help and kindness from so many giving people. It is said that being in gratitude is one of the most powerful practices a person or organization can do to activate the laws of attraction. Being too busy is never a reason to forget to express gratitude. Organizations that practice true gratitude on all levels seem to thrive better, even when times are tough. Never under estimate the power of saying thank you. Thank you.