Have you noticed how you don’t have enough time? For me, my task list is enormous and I never seem to make a dent in it. Seriously, my lists have columns of tasks. I find myself taking care of the “urgent” items or things that need some sort of reaction. Very rarely do I have the opportunity to be proactive and take the time to do things that aren’t urgent, but in the long run would be beneficial. For instance, I find it hard to take a little time to give thanks.
The Many Details of Thanksgiving
My favorite holiday of the year happens to be Thanksgiving. I love that there is a day when we should stop to reflect on all that we have and to use that day to express our gratitude. Thanksgiving falls during my favorite season and we serve my all-time favorite comfort foods. Immediately after Halloween, I plan the many details of hosting Thanksgiving. I have spreadsheets of the menu items – not just grocery lists, but when to buy items, and of course, when to start preparing them. I could get lost in the details of hosting Thanksgiving for my loved ones.
Remembering What’s Important
If I was to be truly honest, each year, I get lost in the tedious details of Thanksgiving, but the holiday isn’t about the food, it is about taking time to appreciate what we have. I forget how much I have to be grateful for: supportive spouse, loving and well-mannered kids (well, most of the time), the odd couple of dogs, a house that is truly a home, and a job that provides me with the flexibility to enjoy my family and do what I love! And these are just the top 5!
Most of us find it easier to take time to give thanks for what we have personally. But, how many of us take the time to express gratitude at the professional level? In the nonprofit sector, we rely on the generosity of others to fulfill our mission. Aside from the form thank-you letters, what are we doing to truly give thanks to our supporters?
Expressing True Gratitude
Our volunteers and donors give their most precious resources to our mission. They take the time to make our nonprofit a priority in their life. Many of us aren’t taking the time to regularly thank them for supporting our organization. These individuals should get more than a form thank-you letter or an annual token of volunteer appreciation. They give of themselves because they want our mission to continue, and we need to authentically give them thanks.
Ways to Authentically Give Thanks
As nonprofit professionals, we find it difficult to take time to think about the ways we can proactively give thanks to our volunteers and donors. We forget that these individuals aren’t looking for something time-intensive or expensive. They want you to be good stewards of your time and of the financial resources given to your organization. What they want is to be included in your mission. They want to be recognized as individuals who have been on the front lines (or close to it) for the cause.
What does giving authentic thanks look like? It could look like doing a spotlight on one of your volunteers on social media, your website, or your newsletter. When volunteers are working, take pictures of them in action and surprise them with the picture and a note of thanks. Take time to meet with them (or have board members meet with them) and ask them for their thoughts and ideas on how you can improve. Bottom line, these individuals want to know that the work that they are doing and the money that they are giving are making a noticeable impact, and that the organization appreciates it.
As you prepare to enjoy the best (in my humble opinion) holiday in the United States, take time to give thanks for what you have personally, but also take the time to appreciate what your organization has in regards to volunteers and donors. And once the holiday is through, be proactive in how you authentically thank these dedicated supporters.