We celebrate Thanksgiving here in the United States tomorrow, and it’s a day that’s set aside for us to stop and be thankful for all that God has done for us and provided for us. Of course, we celebrate this day by gathering together with family and friends, and we eat a traditional meal and enjoy the day together.
We’ve been talking about fundraising this month, and I thought this would be a perfect way to end this stream of conversation, and today as I prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, I was reminded of how being thankful is an important aspect of fundraising.
Years ago, I met with a man to invite him to contribute to a project I was working on. After listening to my presentation, he simply said something like, “Thanks Russ for sharing this opportunity. I’m sorry, but I’m not able to be a part of this right now.”
When he told me that, my heart sank. I had spent time and money to get to this meeting with him, and my hopes were that he would jump in with me. I tried my best to hide my disappointment, and I simply said, “Thank you for the opportunity to present this need to you. I appreciate the time and I know that you need to get involved where God is directing you to give. Thank you for your generosity to the Kingdom, even if you can’t give to my project.”
Honestly, I didn’t say that to change his mind or to guilt him. I said that because I was genuinely grateful for him and his willingness to be involved in hundred’s of great projects all over the world.
Two weeks later, he sent me a check. The check wasn’t for the amount I had asked him, but it was a gift that would help me eventually reach my goal. With the check was a simple note. It said this: “Thank you for ‘thanking me’. I don’t get thanked often.”
Of course, I called him and thanked him again, but what he said stuck with me. Why don’t we thank people more often? Why don’t we take the time to simply communicate our heartfelt gratitude, not just for their investment, but for their trust, for their partnership, for their interest, for their impact, for their lives?
Sometimes I get so busy that I don’t do a good job of thanking people, but today, I’m really thankful to those that regularly contribute to my life, my ministry and the vision God has given me.
What about you?
Here are a couple of practical things you can do that will create a habit of thanksgiving:
#1) Thank your current donors, partners, churches, organizations. Figure out a way to simply communicate how grateful you are. This can be a visit, a hand-written note, a short e-mail or call. Whatever! There’s no excuse for not thanking the people who are regularly involved with you. Make this a habit.
#2) When you receive a large gift or a special gift, stop what you’re doing and thank them immediately. Don’t wait or put it off. A 5-minute call will mean a lot.
#3) Don’t just thank people when they give. Thank them for listening to you, for making time for you, for other things they are involved in. Thank them for ongoing prayer, for input, for networking. Let thanks flow from you regularly!
#4) Thank them again. Sometimes, just saying thanks once isn’t enough. Let’s “thanks” be the foundation of many conversations and connections. Thank them continuously.
Sometimes people don’t like to be thanked. Sometimes people don’t want any public recognition. Be aware of this! You don’t want to challenge a donor’s desire for anonymity. Ask them if you can share about their gift or get permission before ever publishing something publicly.
Really, the lesson here is to simply thank people. Stop what you’re doing and say THANK YOU. If it helps, cook up some turkey and some pumpkin pie to get you in the mood.
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