Gratitude is a Verb

Note from Diane: We hope you are enjoying our series about being #Grateful for #Grants as much as we are enjoying writing the pieces for you! Have you missed one of the earlier posts? Check out Defining Grantitude by Amy Bonn and How Does Your Nonprofit Score on Grantitude? and Bethany Turner, GPC.  



Let’s talk about gratitude.

Every non-profit has that form letter, the one that says, “Thank you so much so-and-so for your generous gift…” While, yes, that letter is sincere in its intentions, let’s be honest-its primary purpose is to provide proof of contribution at tax time. Is that letter truly the beginning and end of the gratitude a non-profit can convey to its funders? Let’s challenge ourselves to do more than merely state our gratitude to those who support us, let’s talk about living it.

How do we as non-profit professionals fully express our gratitude to funders in a deliberate way, one that shows that their support is transformative while also furthering the story of our mission and vision?

Buddhist principles state that “Practicing mindfulness of gratitude consistently leads to a direct experience of being connected to life and the realization that there is a larger context in which your personal story is unfolding.” Gratitude is two-fold-it must be internalized, and it must be expressed. In applying these principles to your organization’s grant program, you can achieve greater success in your mission and create a deeper connection with new and current funders.

Internalizing your Gratitude: Have you ever noticed how much better food tastes when you’re hungry? That’s because you appreciate it so much more. Now think about that grant your organization received that completely transformed your program. Didn’t it make you want to roll up your sleeves and get to work? Funders want nothing more than that. While donor recognition activities have a very important place in your development strategy, the single most important thing your organization can do to show its thanks is by doing exactly what you said you would do. Implement your activities and achieve, heck, exceed, your projected outcomes. When your staff takes the moment to internalize how lucky they are to have received an opportunity that hundreds of people seek, everyone will be humbled and motivated to prove their worth.

Expressing your Gratitude-Studies have shown that the act of writing down something you’re grateful for is proven to increase happiness to both yourself and the reader. Think about the program for which your organization received its most recent grant. Can you see that grant in action? Can you see the face of the child who received a backpack full of school supplies, or the isolated senior who received a hot meal and a visit? Doesn’t that make you feel good, like you were able to play a small part in making your place in the world a little better? Well, why shouldn’t your funders get in on that awesome feeling? Take the time to give them periodic updates throughout the grant cycle, like a great success story or a breakthrough in your field. So often it feels like a funder should only be contacted during application or reporting time, but so many would be thrilled to see their contribution in action. Another benefit-consistent contact will definitely put you at the forefront of the funder’s mind when the next application cycle comes around.

Approach gratitude like it’s a verb, not a noun. Live your thanks for the funders who allow you to do what you do. In doing so, you will create new happiness within your organization, your donors, and yourself.





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