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.




A Cohort Leadership Experience: Reflections on LMR2019 First Weekend

No. 1: September Retreat Weekend

You cannot live in the Richmond region without awareness of LMR. Their Leadership Quest program is entering its 39th year of cohort leadership development. I was excited to join this year’s class and kick off our experience this past weekend. To fully live into the experience I have made three commitments:

  1. Unplugging - I left my phone in my purse and didn’t do work during our 3 day retreat. I let family know I would be checking in after dinner each night. This was an unusual behavior on my part as being a relationship oriented small business owner means I try to be accessible to clients.

  2. Journaling - With a tiny bit of ADD I discovered a few years ago that in order to really dig into a full day experience I had to doodle and journal my way through it. The new iPad and pencil really opens up this experience. This way I could capture tools, techniques, and my observations. Just a warning - I can’t really draw!

  3. A Blog Series - I wanted to capture my journey in a way I can revisit. I am sensitive to not “give away” any of the magic of the cohort experience for anyone interested in being part of the 2020 class.

Humbling Moment

At one point during the retreat we separated into two groups - for and against the death penalty. It was an exercise designed to get us thinking about the difference between dialogue and debate. I was surprised to observe different people on each side - people that I had made assumptions about based on their job or a conversation we had engaged in earlier in the day. It was a reminder that I walk into the space with my own biases.

Insights/New Facts

In 2017, out of 46 schools, 24 Richmond schools had less than 20 white students.

In reviewing the regional data presented by Matthew Freeman of Dialectix Consulting I was surprised by very few items given our role in data collection and synthesis through strategic planning for over 50 organizations a year. The one data point that really jumped out was the number of schools in Richmond with 20 or fewer white students. In 2017, out of 46 schools, 24 have less than 20 white students. I think it was less surprising than sobering. It certainly underscores our work in the city specifically to desegregate our schools a legal decision that took place 64 years ago.


It was exciting to know 10 or so people in the room of 70. While I loved spending time with them I also enjoyed meeting a few people and digging below the surface including time spent with:

Jess Powers - ACLU of Virginia, Josh Fararr - Town of Ashland, Christopher Rashad Green - VCU, John Richardson-Lauve - ChildSavers.

Parting thought Session No.1


I left with one amazing piece of wisdom from Jonathan Zur of Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities. When engaging in these experiences always remember to ask yourself:

Does it need to be said?
Does it need to be said right now?
Does it need to be said by me?