Part IV – If only my Board would help show our appreciation

by Marcy Heim on May 9, 2018

It was a whirlwind four-conference speaking tour at the AFP International Conference, NAYDO, AFP Genesee Valley and LeadingAge Iowa. Even the 5:45 am flights were AWESOME!  (well that may be a bit of a stretch).

I must share the most amazing surprise at the AFP Genesee Valley Conference–  JOY cookies!  The entire conference was themed around my keynote – Invest in JOY – complete with these wonderful cookies! How can you NOT smile!  Thank you!

cookie with words JOY on it

Why am I making such a big deal about a cookie?  Well…my voice, my message is ALL ABOUT the JOY of GIVING!  These cookies made me feel SO SPECIAL – SO APPRECIATED!  Wow…what a feeling!

Perfect timing as we dig into engaging your Board’s help in acts of appreciation to your givers.


So let’s talk about Boards – Marcy Style – and in 4 Parts.

Today – PART IV – The Power of a Genuine Board Thank you and other shows of appreciation
Last time – PART III – Invite them to Invest! Giving their gift and helping make an Artful Ask  See it HERE

Before that

PART II – Board Bonanza – Creating a Joyful Giver See it HERE

PART I – Building Trust to Begin See it HERE


Some people just have a way of making you feel so good. They have that special knack for knowing just what to do or say.

Actually, this is really is a learned skill. It comes from a special combination of two key ingredients.

  1. Genuinely being grateful, and
  2. Being keenly in-the-moment to observe what makes the recipient joyful.

When we invite our Board members to join us in creating deep, respectful, engaging and fun relationships with our givers and prospective givers, begin with my Cycle of Successful Relationships so they see the ENTIRE relationship-building process and the key roles they play around the cycle.

And note…my third phase of the cycle is called, “Invoking the Grateful Recipient.”  This means that we go beyond classic “stewardship” – where we provide appropriate management of the gift assuring it is put to the intended good purpose – to embracing our responsibility to help the donor ENJOY the giving. Helping the donor move from success to significance is a key part where our board members can help as they have hopefully experienced this feeling themselves. It moves a person from obligatory giving to that dopamine high the brain releases when we allow ourselves to enjoy the giving –  celebrate our giving.

quote board impact

Now here we go!  10 tips to help board members share appreciation.

  1. The Power of One

Every board member has a unique style. As members of the board, any sincere action they take will be deeply appreciated by the donor.  It’s not about the perfect words, or gift or note – it’s about indeed being grateful.

  1. Make it fun

Even for challenging missions – domestic abuse, addiction, and the like, having fun, being joyful as you thank is valued by the givers. Giving should feel good.

  1. Brainstorm on meaningful actions

Respect that your board members have some great ideas. Take time at a board meeting or get 2-3 board members together and talk about what they think donors would like to feel appreciated. Remember, just saying “thanks” anytime anywhere is always on the list! What about gifts? Make them simple, not too expensive and reflective of mission.

  1. Engage board members to make the touch

Many of you already have note cards and donor info at Board meetings and board members write out thank you notes on the spot. You can also ask them to drop off an annual report, event invite, or picture of your mission in action.

  1. Quarterly touches as part of Relationship Action Plans

Board members are perfect partners to help with continuous gratitude. As development professionals we have lots of good intentions. Appreciation actions often get postponed in our busy days. Board members are perfect to schedule out ahead of time to connect and thank.  Plan the touches and board members will be much more likely to help.

rock with Thank You on it

  1. Use a communication style the donor likes or stands out

Board members can have a big impact when you pair them with someone who communicates the same way – phone, text, in person, written, Facebook etc. OR, pair them with someone completely different.  The unexpected phone call – just to say thanks – can be very impactful.  GET YOUR Thank you Script here!

  1. Create a System that is comfortable and achievable for each board member.

Some make 3 calls each week – they love to be on the phone.  Some will come on calls, some have a knack for hearing about good deeds of donors and recognizing these as well as extending thanks.

  1. Group touches

I love little events….those gatherings of 6-9 folks at a board member’s home or club. They are personal, fun and really relatively easy. No formal invites, no silent auction. Just an update of impact, appreciation and fun.

  1. Must be genuine

Whatever you and your board do, you can smell a money-hungry fake miles away. If you are giving thanks to get money it shows. Gracious donors will be pleasant and decide to give elsewhere – where they are authentically appreciated.


When I do Campaign Readiness Studies, after I ask the regular questions, I add on a bit of conversation about how we development folks are doing. One thing that almost ALWAYS comes up, “Can you ever say ‘thank you’ without your hand out?”

Be certain to help your Board understand that “Thank you” followed by, “We look forward to your continuing support” is not a thank you, it’s an ask. OR “We look forward to having you a part of the XYZ Charity family next year.” is not a thank you, it’s an ask. Say thank you and shut up.

The very best part? It feels so good to recognize another’s’ investment in a mission you both are passionate about. With many donors now giving anonymously to avoid press or increased unwelcomed solicitations, you enhance their giving joy in just the way that is meaningful for them. Are you stuck on that?  Try the question, “What can we do to be absolutely positive you know how very much we appreciate your support?” or “Help us understand how we can say ‘thank you’ the very best?

I appreciate YOU!  I am thankful for YOU and the gift you are to your donors and beyond. Thank you for choosing to lift up those around you with the power and joy of generosity!

Invest in JOY®



Marcy Heim is a trusted authority in the development profession and helps organizations and educational institutions boost their major gift programs through artful, long-term relationship building that dramatically increases fundraising success while promoting increased staff job satisfaction. To receive a free chapter from Marcy’s book, Empower Your Board to Serve as Effective Development Ambassadors, click here.

Questions:  Contact KK Konicek at

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