Inspiring Generosity


Inspiring Generosity


5/21/2014

How to Gain a Raving Fan Through a Thank You Letter
 
How many of you have opened up what looks like a form letter and read, “On behalf of blah blah blah I want to thank you for your generous donation”?  In principle, there’s nothing wrong with this – and believe me, it’s way better to receive a boring thank you letter than to receive nothing at all.  So kudos to you who write thank you letters!  You remember what your mom taught you.  She would be so proud. 


But – what if you got a letter with this opening:
 
“What a friend you are to us! Once again you have honored us with a gift that is making a difference in the lives of people.”

Lucky me, I was the recipient of such a note last week.  I am a proud graduate of Westmont College.  Now I am quite sure that Westmont, an evangelical institution, and I parted ways long ago on many theological topics. For years, I had to
assure students at the secular universities where I worked that I was not a freak of nature because I went to a college where there was no drinking, dancing (except, of course, square dancing – yeehaw!), or smoking, guys had visitation hours, and if (Lordy be!) there were people of the male species in our rooms, the door ALWAYS had to be open at a 45 degree angle.  They could have just put me in a habit and called it good.
 
But Westmont was also a place (unexpectedly) that allowed me to grow in my understanding of Christianity.  Until I went there I had never heard of “social justice” or that Jesus had a heart for the poor – and that I should too.  I went on mission trips that changed and enlarged my worldview.  My experiences at Westmont set me on a path to engage with tough justice-related issues.  It made me a more thoughtful Christian.
 
So I feel strongly that I want to support my alma mater.  Not with big gifts, mind you – I am nowhere near being a big donor.  And that’s what made this letter all the more surprising.  Trina, Westmont’s Director of Annual Giving, had me at “What a friend you are to us!”  There was no “ask” – it was all “thanks.” 
 
And the final cherry on top was her hand written note,
“Thank you for your amazing 20 years of supporting Westmont.” 
 
Wow.  I hadn’t realized that I had been giving for 20 years – but someone took the time and recognized this milestone.  (To see the full letter, click here.)
 
How many faithful stewards do you have in your church who have given decade after decade?  Have you taken the time to recognize them?  It doesn’t have to be some big hoopdie do.  A simple, yet heartfelt, “thank you” really is sometimes all that’s needed to make someone feel noticed, appreciated, blessed…and happy to be a raving fan.  Now you go on, write one of those letters today.
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past decade, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over $2 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She served as the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012.  Her square dancing days were over after Westmont.   Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com.
 
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann

Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.

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