Foster Thanksgiving Every Day

by Marcy Heim on November 23, 2020

Generous Gratitude grateful hearts become generous hearts.JPG

Whenever, or if, you celebrate a formal Thanksgiving Day, you have the responsibility…and the give thanks EVERY day. But watch your words!

First, some definitions. Being thankful often implies you are acknowledging your thanks for something that someone has given you, or done for you. This can be a gift or holding open the door. The Oxford Dictionary defines the word thankful as “pleased and relieved.” Both of those are great feelings. Everyone wants to be pleased and relieved. But that’s just it; they are just feelings, and feelings fade.

Gratitude is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “showing an appreciation of kindness.” This is where the difference lies; being thankful is a feeling, and being grateful is an action. Being grateful is about appreciating what one has, as opposed to what one wants.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow” — Melody Beattie

In our fundraising work and lives, we say things that diminish our thanks and gratitude. Here are Three Things to Never Say Again when Being Thankful.

1. “I left money on the table”

What the donor gives you is just right. It may not be the number you put down in YOUR plan. Or, you sense they would have given more if you had asked for more and somehow you feel like you blew it. Do you see how this line of thinking implies that what they DID GIVE YOU is not good enough!? When you embrace that your job is to create an authentic relationship with your major donors, you are thankful for this gift. Period. It gives you the opportunity to say, “Thank you” and to stay in touch. Gratitude for the gift helps you create the experiences with the donor that fosters their gratitude to be part of your work and in their lives. You simply cannot create this experience if you somehow feel “cheated.”  This carries over with your spouse or kids. If you get a “yes” for ½ hour of help, do you suspect they would have done more?  “Rats!” you think? Wrong! Change that thinking. Relationships are life-long.  

2. “If only my board, (or CEO, or program staff, or family, or whomever) would help!” 

There’s probably nothing I hear more than this feeling that, “I do it all.” This is a victim mindset. Life happens TO you. You can’t control your circumstances. You would be more successful if others did their part. It is your choice to hold onto this belief. With a daily practice of gratitude, you thank them for their service, appreciate what they DO give or do NOW and get curious with them about how they see themselves doing more with you. This shifts your energy to actions that appreciates their fears, talents and perceptions and changes your experience with them, allowing you to focus your time on what they ARE able to do, and shoring up your fundraising with partners who can be of real help.

 3. “I have to get thank you calls (or thank you letters, or visits) done.”

Thanking can become such a chore – tasks on the list that weigh on your mind. “Is it too late to even do now?” It’s when you go beyond the obligation of thanks – to the action of gratitude – that you go deeper and these become actions you GET to do!

As my client Georgia Cumberland Academy crosses the finish line this December on their campaign – growing from a few hundred thousand to $20 million, we’re taking actions to help donors remember how far we have come. Honestly, it’s hard to even visualize what the place looked like before. Saying, “thank you” has been a continuous, but now fostering that deeper gratitude is inspiring continued connections.

Your “thank you” is acknowledging what someone has given you, and I’m sure you DO feel thankful. However gratitude goes deeper. It is a state of being where you are at peace with the world. Being thankful is the first step, and you need that initial feeling to build upon. Gratitude requires you to stay alert of the role of others in your life – beyond the act for which you are thankful.

Through gratitude, you get to credit your donors – and your loved ones – with the appreciation they deserve. It encompasses shared experiences, shared respect, shared love and an understanding that the universe is a positive place conspiring to keep us happy, and help us understand how connected we are to others.  Grateful for you – grateful you are connected to me.

Invest in JOY!

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