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Appreciation and Acknowledgment

By December 1, 2009March 30th, 2014Withisms

“The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.” ~ William James

It’s a giving time of year. People are volunteering their time at food banks, and at their place of worship, coats are being collected for those less fortunate, gifts are being purchased for families who may not otherwise receive a holiday gift and of course many, many financial contributions are being made.

People give more during these last two months of the year than any other time.

While most will tell you that they don’t need or want any acknowledgment and they certainly don’t need a big deal made about their efforts – most people DO need to know their contributions are appreciated. Don’t believe them when they tell you they don’t need any acknowledgement. Do SOMETHING, even if it’s small, to make sure those who are giving to your organization KNOW that you appreciate them.

The act of appreciation can be small and not cost you much. But do it. Take the time to keep the giver engaged and connected to you and those you serve.

I gave a financial contribution to an organization earlier this summer and in the last two weeks made another small contribution. I received the obligatory thank you tax receipt letter from them each time. What gave me pause was that I received the exact same letter both times – 4 months apart.

What that told me is they have a “form” letter that someone drafts and it doesn’t get updated very often. And no one is paying attention to keeping the appreciation fresh and meaningful. Hmmm. I guess my gift is just one of many that they receive and it doesn’t really matter so much. That’s the thought I had when I got the 2nd letter.

Some inexpensive ways to make appreciation meaningful:

  • Have a phone call made by a board member or volunteer to those who make gifts at a certain dollar amount and higher. This lets me know that someone noticed my gift and that it really is appreciated.
  • Have clients hand write a thank you note that gets photocopied and included with the “form” letter.
  • Make sure if people are making multiple contributions a year both financially and of their time or in-kind gifts that you are sending DIFFERENT letters of acknowledgment.
  • Use your donor tracking system to keep track of which letter gets sent or who made the thank you call – so you can keep it fresh each time. One I suggest and use myself is Trail Blazer Non-profit Manager.
  • Invite key donors, with a personal phone call invitation, to the “holiday” event your organization is holding for those you serve – if you have such an event. The phone call invite alone makes this meaningful even if the person doesn’t attend the event. And keep the invite to having them attend for just a short “stop by” at a pre-designated time. 

There are many more was to keep acknowledgement meaningful and inexpensive. What are yours?



  • Nice post Lori! Regarding donor conversion, Mal Warwick says, “The first place to start is with a prompt thank you.” Saying “thank you” is a great way to maintain loyalty, and convert donors who have made their initial donation. As with the examples cited in Lori’s post, nonprofits should try not to be too impersonal or “cut & paste” with their “Thank Yous.”

  • Thanks for the feedback, Blase! It’s an important time to be “maintaining” loyalty with donors and volunteers, that’s for sure.

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