The Missing Thank You Note: Lessons on Why You Need To Write More

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Last week I received two thank you cards in the mail. The first one was from a dear friend who is expecting a baby soon and graciously took all of the stuff my twins have outgrown. The second was from my sister who thanked me for hosting her for a visit earlier in the month. As I read each card I noticed that my mood instantly brightened and my smile grew bigger—I felt so special and appreciated by people whom I love and respect.

My mother, while the very opposite of prim and proper, is a staunch believer in the handwritten thank you note. You may not be able to read half of the words because her handwriting is so poor, but dang it, you know she cared enough to scrawl it out. Every time she comes to visit me, all the way from Arizona, she sends me a note thanking me for the visit. I like to think that this is something she passed down to me, and I often joke that this is the value that makes me a born-fundraiser and organizer.

There is power in the thank you note—we all know it. Who doesn’t love receiving a hand written note in the mail? So why don’t we all write and send them more often?

It takes time, of course it does, and you and everyone else have very little time to spare. But this is just one of those things that is worth the investment. Every single fundraising study ever done tell us that a handwritten note to a donor is one the very best ways to retain them over time. Is anyone surprised by this fact? Not me. It doesn’t hurt to send one to a hard working volunteer, either.

When you send a note to someone thanking them for their donation of money or time you are reminding them of a really awesome thing they did and that feels good. And when you feel good you want to do that thing again. It’s really quite simple.

Play some upbeat music and let the gratitude flow.

It’s hard to remember to send thank you notes so add it to your calendar, maybe every Friday morning you save a block of time to write notes, or at every staff meeting you take 10 minutes for everyone to write a few cards and mail them all together. Buy a special pen that’s just for thank you notes or pick out the specialty stamps at the post office. Play some upbeat music and let the gratitude flow. Make thank you note writing a regular part of your life and you won’t forget. It’s worth it.