Institute for Charitable Giving

blue rule

Recognition and Praise of Your Donors and Staff

blue rule

It was our firms great joy and privilege to get to know Mary Kay Ash quite well. She was chair (and a major donor) in one of our campaigns. You likely recognize her best of all as founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics. It was her belief that there are two things people want most in life: recognition and praise. For anyone who works with a staff, there is great wisdom in those words.

When Robert A. Eckert was Chairman and CEO of Mattel, he said that thank you were the two most important words in the language. Here are some tips he suggests:

  1. Set aside time every week to acknowledge the good work of your staff.
  2. Write handwritten thank you notes as much as possible. The personal touch matters, particularly in this digital age with emails and tweets.
  3. Punish in private. Praise in public. Make the public praise timely and specific.
  4. Remember to copy the supervisor of the people you are praising. Follow the old verity: “Don’t tell me. Tell my boss.”
  5. Foster a culture of gratitude. It’s a game-changer for sustaining better performance.

All of this works precisely the same way for donors, also. We have one client where every member of the development staff writes a thank-you note to a donor every evening before they leave work.

Follow my BOY ruleBecause Of You. Let your donors know that you couldn’t have done it without their help. Begin an epidemic. Get everyone on the staff to begin sending handwritten notes.


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