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What if there was one incredibly simple, quick habit that you could do on a daily basis that was guaranteed to increase your success in fundraising?

The good news is that there is and you likely already practice it on some level:


It benefits not only your bottom line in raising money, but countless scientific studies have shown that it contributes to the overall well-being in pretty much every aspect of your life as well, from reducing stress to deepening relationships to allowing you to sleep better.

Thank you letters are par for the course in fundraising. Besides being common sense and good manners, we also know, inherently, that if we don’t thank our donors, the likelihood of ever receiving another gift is practically nil.

However, often, we only thank our donors when they give a gift or when our work has hit an important benchmark.

A daily practice of gratitude will not only deepen your fundraising relationships, but it will also make the act of fundraising that much more rewarding.

So let’s explore a few ways that we can activate gratitude as a daily habit in fundraising.

The Thank You Note

Such a simple act that can be done in a spare moment, the thank you note is a gentle touch of appreciation.

Sending a daily thank you note works best if you begin with a simple, running list of people who have supported your work in some way, financially or otherwise. Then set a daily recurring 15-minute appointment on your calendar (I like afternoons when a break is usually in order). At that time each day pick one person from your list and send her a brief note of appreciation.

The key is to keep this short, sweet, informal, authentic and addressed to a single person. The next day pick someone else. Keep going down the line and always have someone who you can thank in some small way.

Keep a Gratitude Journal

The idea is to jot down the things for which you are grateful regularly. Sounds simple enough and research has certainly indicated that the benefits of keeping one are numerous.

But a gratitude journal may not be for everybody, especially in the long term. If you have an active journaling practice, wonderful. Add what you are grateful for to your daily prompts. If journaling is not your thing, however, you might get bored with it and drop off sooner rather than later. So let’s look at a couple of workarounds for this:

Get a notebook that will only be used for fundraising. You won’t be using it to track all that you are grateful for in life (family, health, your dog, coffee, etc. though of course it is important to be grateful for all that as well!). This notebook will just include what you appreciate about fundraising, money that comes in the door, how it supports your work and who makes it happen. This will give you some specific direction for your notations.

Keep it close by when you work, preferably on your laptop or keyboard. Before you open your computer (and especially before you check your email!), give yourself one minute to write just one thing down. No pressure, no judgment, just one thing.

It could be a donor, an opportunity or a tool that makes your life easier. If you think of more throughout the day, you can add those to your notebook as well but start with one thing, anything, that has to do with fundraising.

If journaling daily is just not going to happen for you, then make a commitment to keep the gratitude journal during time periods when you are the most stressed out. Have an upcoming deadline for a massive grant proposal that you know will come down to the wire? Producing an event that has your team pressurized to the max in tasks and to-dos? A looming budget crisis on the horizon?

High stress, crazy-busy and uncertain times are when the gratitude journal can be most useful. It is grounding, uplifting and recalibrating at a time when you are bound to need it most.

Imagine Your Work Without Your Supporters

This technique is not for the faint of heart, but I encourage you to give it a shot. Visualize what would happen if all of your donors, your funders, even your cheerleaders on the sidelines suddenly stopped supporting you and your work.

Chances are, without them, you wouldn’t be able to accomplish much at all.

This is one rough and tumble, albeit effective, way to check yourself in the gratitude department. Just don’t take it too far and freak yourself out. Stop at, “Wow, thank god for … “ (Then add whatever that is to either your thank you note list or gratitude journal right away!)

If this has been helpful to you, please consider making a donation! Your contribution is deeply appreciated and supports all of the free programming at Open Rivers.

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