Under-estimating the Power of Gratitude

Under-estimating the Power of Gratitude

In 2017, Amit Kumar and Nicholas Epley published the results of a series of experiments that showed that a lot of us underestimate the positive impact on others (and ourselves) of expressing gratitude via a personal email.

As they explain:

The senders of the thank-you letters consistently underestimated how positive the recipients felt about receiving the letters and how surprised they were by the content. The senders also overestimated how awkward the recipients felt; and they underestimated how warm, and especially how competent, the recipients perceived them to be. Age and gender made no difference to the pattern of findings.

This is a lesson that all fundraisers need to take to heart.

Are you making the time to send personal thanks that reflect how their generosity will impact beneficiaries?

It does make a difference. Recently I saw this tweet from a donor:

My own experience shows that too often thanking is seen as an administration process. Organisation churn out the same form letters with no sense of gratitude or personality.

Here are three questions to ask your colleagues.

  1. How often do we update our template letters?

  2. What could we do to show more gratitude to our supporters?

  3. How can we reward/encourage everyone to become great at gratitude?

Often when I challenge fundraisers to become better at showing gratitude I’m told ‘we don’t have time’ or ‘that’s only for major donors’.

It is my firm belief that it should apply to all supporters (unless they expressly ask you not to) and you need to the find time to make gratitude part of your culture. You could start by cancelling an internal meeting, diarising half an hour a week and starting with your best supporters.

If you don’t, then, as the research shows, you may be missing a chance to give your supporters a warm, fuzzy glow and to increase their loyalty and commitment to your cause.

Five creative ways to show gratitude

In 2018, the UK charity Refuge benefitted from comedian Richard Herring raising sponsorship for his annual tweet-athon on International Women’s Day. At Christmas they sent a card to everyone who donated. This is how much it meant to one supporter:

Direct feedback and thanks from beneficiaries always goes down well with supporters. I’ve seen organisations send poems, messages and songs that have been written from grateful beneficiaries. They never fail to move and engage.

Organisation wide thank-a-thons are growing in popularity and are a great way to engage your whole organisation in expressing gratitude. Pick a date, get a list of donor phone numbers and addresses, and spend an evening (with treats for people volunteering) calling people and writing notes of thanks.

Social media is a powerful gratitude tool. Fun GIFs from the team, short video messages and posting photos of supporters and expressing thanks are all easy to do and appreciated.

Finally, make sure you always have a supply of thank you cards (ideally organisation specific) by your desk. Constantly look for opportunities when you could delight a donor by sending a hand-written note of thanks.

De kleine stakeholder

De kleine stakeholder

Vrijdag visdag, #GivingTuesday en filantropie

Vrijdag visdag, #GivingTuesday en filantropie