Monday, November 9, 2009

Giving Thanks

With Thanksgiving approaching, now is a good time to focus on gratitude for all the people who contribute to the work of your organization, and to make sure you are communicating that gratitude.

Some ways to express your appreciation:
  • Lists. You can publish and post lists acknowledging volunteers and donors on your website, via email, with printed lists on the walls of your office/facility, and in your print newsletters. People love to see their names on lists.
  • Thank you cards. Always thank people, with a personal note, for their volunteer hours and donations.
  • Appreciation events. Plan appropriate and fun annual events honoring your donors and volunteers. Offer wonderful food and entertainment.
  • Announcements and articles. Send press releases to your local newspapers honoring the contributions of special volunteers and donors; post articles on your website, in your enewsletter, and your printed brochures.
  • Awards. Create organization awards for volunteers of the year and/or month; nominate your most hard-working volunteers for special local awards.
  • Gifts. Send a donor free tickets to one of your events. Take your staff out to lunch after they have completed a big project. Give the president of your board a bouquet of flowers.
Thanking donors:
Always be sure to promptly thank a donor for all donations with a letter including the approved IRS language, plus a personal note, sent via first class mail. But don't just stop there: continue to thank and communicate with your donors throughout the year using email, newsletters, letters, postcards, phone calls, published donor lists, a thank you phone-a-thon, an annual donor appreciation event.

Thanking volunteers:
Thank your volunteers each time they help out, with a handwritten postcard sent first class mail. Keep track of their hours so you can specially acknowledge longstanding hard-working volunteers. And don't forget that your Board of Directors is your most important volunteer crew. Take every opportunity you can to personally express your appreciation for all the work that they do - especially when there has been conflict, differences of opinion about who is in charge, or if the organization is experiencing significant transition and/or challenges.

Thanking your staff:
It's easy to get so busy and stressed out with deadlines and funding pressures, particularly in these challenging times, that you may forget to thank your staff for their work. Know that even the smallest gesture of appreciation will make people feel better, facilitate better working conditions, and foster greater collaboration.

A little gratitude will go a long way towards building donor relationships, sustaining volunteers and board members, and creating a positive work environment for your organization!