“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.” ― Alphonse Karr (1808-1890)
As I look back over the Steier Group’s 20 years, I could easily focus on the setbacks, struggles and heartaches. In other words, I could focus on the thorns. But I’m glad to say that when I look at the amazing relationships the Steier Group has developed with our clients, when I survey the good that we’ve achieved together for such noble causes, when I consider the projects accomplished that have borne such fruit for so many, I cannot help but concentrate on the roses especially. That makes me grateful.
Gratitude is about rejoicing that thorns have roses. It isn’t just optimism or a sunny disposition; it’s a choice. Being grateful is a virtue and something that needs cultivation.
For nonprofit organizations that rely upon the generosity of donors to sustain them and their work, expressing gratitude is a necessity. But like all necessities, expressing gratitude can run the risk of becoming pro forma, routine and impersonal. The danger with losing a sense of genuine gratitude is that we become dissatisfied with what we have or hypercritical that what is given is insufficient. Expressing gratefulness takes practice. Here are a couple practical ways to demonstrate your gratitude:
- Hand written note. With email, texting and social media, the fact that you took a moment to put pen to paper itself communicates the care you’re taking to express something important. Writing a personal expression of gratitude on the formal acknowledgment letter for tax purposes goes a long way to let a donor know you personally care. For your largest donors, send a separate hand written note in addition to the formal acknowledgement letter and be specific about how their gift makes a real impact.
- A small gift. A thank you note can often accompany a small gift that is personalized to the recipient: a coffee when they aren’t expecting it, a bottle of their favorite wine, a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant, etc. Providing a benefactor with a token of gratitude that is something he or she already enjoys is a great way to emphasize the “you” in “thank you.”
- The promise of prayer. Many of our clients are communities of faith. And communities of faith appreciate a remembrance in prayer for a personal intention near to the heart. Maybe a donor is going through a health struggle or a family member is looking for work. Accompanying our donors through the ups and downs of life is a way to express appreciation for the donor beyond his or her financial wherewithal.
Saying thank you is important, not just for donor relations, but for the recipient of the gift as well. It keeps us humble, avoids entitlement and makes us realize that the contribution of many is what makes great things happen. That’s what I think of when I look back on these past 20 years of the Steier Group. Have there been thorns? Of course. But thorny bushes bloom fragrant, colorful roses. And we’ve achieved so much because of the contribution of so many. Thank you to all our past clients who’ve made our work these past 20 years a true blessing not only professionally but personally.
Please take a moment today to reflect on what you are grateful for. I know I am most grateful for our wonderful clients and employees.