This note got me choked up
Well friends, domestic life has been pretty exciting this week (yet again). The new dryer arrived but I’ve already become hooked on the art of line drying. My garden is going gang-busters. Anyone need apples? How about a spare zucchini? Lettuce? One friend compared me to Laura Ingalls Wilder which I will take as a compliment since I know that Martha Stewart would never hang her unmentionables outside to dry. Maybe that old “Green Acres” theme song is true… “Farm livin’ is the life for me.” At least ‘til it starts raining. Then I will hug my new dryer.
Some of you know that in addition to writing this blog, I also do development work for a couple of fabulous non-profits here in Salem - shout out to the capital of Oregon! One of those organizations is a community theater that has been in existence for more than 65 years. It’s a beloved institution and has delighted and challenged audiences with its productions for decades.
Just like it’s devastated all arts and entertainment sectors, you can imagine how the pandemic has devastated the Pentacle. Its entire 2020 season has been cancelled and who knows what will be happening in 2021?
When it became clear that COVID-19 was going to significantly impact the Pentacle, we set out to keep in touch with our donors. Our Executive Director and Board members made phone calls. The primary purpose of those calls was to see how individuals were doing. Many of our patrons are elderly. Some are widowed. They consider Pentacle their community. In this call, there was no “ask” – just sincere concern. These were – essentially – pastoral calls.
We kept up the communication by sending out a paper letter from the Board President letting people know about the financial fallout because of coronavirus and asking for their financial support. Our Executive Director continued to send out bi-weekly emails to inform and remind people that Pentacle was still in business, even though the stage was dark (hmmm…that being closed part sounds like a few congregations I know). Those emails have been infused with gratitude – in spite of the heaviness of the world’s situation. Next week, we’re hosting a Zoom “thank you” event for some of our more generous donors. There will be entertainment, updates from the Board President and from our Executive Director, and a time for Q and A. The focus will be on gratitude.
Last week, Pentacle’s Executive Director received an unexpected gift. After looking at the enclosed check, she read the following hand-written note:
Hope this donation helps out! You and your board members do such a good job of keeping in touch with and thanking your donors. [My spouse] and I appreciate your efforts. You deserve this gift. Very best wishes…
Enclosed was a check for $5,000.
Pentacle Theatre has not been stewarding donors to get more money.
They’ve been doing it because it’s the right thing to do.
I get it, I do. There’s a difference between faith-based giving (which is a spiritual discipline in return for all God has given us) and secular giving (giving because it’s what you feel like doing). But…it doesn’t mean that those church gifts – whatever the reason they are given – should be taken for granted. How you respond to those gifts can help people experience a deep well of thanksgiving. Recognize generosity. Pronto. Need some ideas? Check out A Thrilling Thank You Video or A Thank You Letter that Says, “Wow!”
If you’ve recently been negligent in thanking your people, don’t beat yourself up. There’s no time like the present. The good news: it’ll give you a lift, and who knows? You may be the recipient of a thank you for your thank you.