Gobble Gobble … pass the stewardship please?

This non-profit professional loves Thanksgiving! Yes, as you can tell from my picture, I love the epicurean delights that grace my table for this holiday. However, what I really love has almost nothing to do with food . . . it is the idea of taking time to simply say “thank you” that really appeals to my inner non-profit soul. It is for this reason I believe Thanksgiving is quintessentially a non-profit holiday.

What are you doing this Thanksgiving holiday to reach out to your donors and volunteers and express your thanks and gratitude?

When I worked for the Boy Scouts more than a decade ago, I found tremendous joy in cooking a full-blown Thanksgiving meal for my District Committee. Mmmmmm . . . I remember it as if it were just yesterday. Turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, beans,  rolls, dutch oven cobbler . . . prepared and served with my own two hands in the church basement we used to meet every month.

After feeding 50 of my best donors and volunteers, I relished the opportunity to take 2- or 3-minutes and tell them how thankful I was for their help and support. I also highlighted a handful of our collective successes from the last year.

Years later, as I worked with local Boys & Girls Club affiliates throughout the Midwest region, we worked on developing “thank-a-thon” events to steward donors around the Thanksgiving holiday. This was simply a handful of board volunteers who were armed with a list of donors, short script, and telephone. The message was short and sweet . . .

  • thank you for your support,
  • your support made a difference,
  • we accomplished X/Y/Z and couldn’t have done it without the support of caring and generous people like you,
  • we hope we can continue to count on your support in the future, and
  • this Thanksgiving we give thanks for people like you. Enjoy the holidays!

There was no solicitation for money. There was no guilt. It was an expression of simple gratitude. It demonstrated that donors and volunteers were part of a larger family — our “non-profit family”.

What are your personal plans to steward board volunteers, donors and volunteers this holiday season? I see many non-profits doing something. So, please take 30-seconds and share your favorite Thanksgiving stewardship activity of all time. If you’re a volunteer or donor, please share the best Thanksgiving stewardship activity that your favorite non-profit has ever included you in. We can all learn from each other . . . but that requires using the comment box below to share. Please?

Here is to your health! Enjoy your Thanksgiving with both your immediate family as well as your non-profit family.  🙂

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC

About DonorDreams

Erik got his start working in the non-profit field immediately upon graduation with his masters degree in 1994. His non-profit management and fundraising experience numbers nearly 20 years. His teachable point of view around resource development is influenced by the work of Penelope Burk and those professionals subscribing to a "donor centered" paradigm. Donors have dreams and it is our responsibility to be dream-makers because donors are not ATMs.

Posted on November 21, 2011, in Board development, Fundraising, nonprofit, resource development, volunteers and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Erik ~ I am new to the non-profit world and the first person in a development position for this organization. A friend had connected me with your blog and I look forward to receiving it. So, THANKS to you for your spirit and exchange of ideas. At this point next year, I hope to have done some things that I can share with you!
    Happy Thanksgiving, I am grateful.
    Beth Simminger
    Cincinnati, Ohio

    • Beth . . . thanks for the kind words. I look forward to publishing my blog everyday and I’m gratified that new NFP professionals like you find it enjoyable! Please remember that you can click the “subscribe button” on my blog and have a copy of my weekday blog delivered right to your inbox for free. Happy Thanksgiving!


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