Inspiring Generosity


A Thank You that Broke (Some of) the Rules

                             The image on the card (artist unknown)

There it was. A square-ish envelope. Handwritten address. Fancy stamp. I knew it was a card, but what kind of card? I eagerly opened the envelope.
As I have mentioned before, I am helping coordinate an “Educating Ourselves about Race and Racism” Zoom class for our church (and anyone else who’s interested). In a recent series, one of our class members coordinated three classes on issues facing Native Americans. She invited the Executive Director of Red Lodge Transition Services to speak with us.

Red Lodge is a Native American-led organization providing a residential program and culturally-focused programs for women being released from jail, prison, or treatment.

It was a mind-expanding and fascinating hour.
Afterward, I decided to make a modest gift as a “thank you” for the presentation and to support the work of Red Lodge. Because it’s essentially a one-woman operation, I didn’t expect a thank you letter – and I was fine with that.

Imagine my surprise when two weeks later, the aforementioned card arrived. I’ve put the image here so you can enjoy it as well.

Not only was the painting beautiful (done by an unknown artist), the hand-written message was also a gem:
hello, I hope that you get this card and love it. I also hope it makes your day! We wanted to say thank you for your support of Redlodge. Please take care and be safe.
Thank You again!!
Redlodge Transition Services
My heart swelled.
I still get a smile on my face when I read this - which I have several times. Don’t we all need a serotonin rush now and again?

There are a lot of “rules” out there about the best way to write a thank you letter. I have posted some of them. They are important. Do not underestimate them – especially if you don’t have much experience in saying thank you (hint: start practicing!).
Here’s how Red Lodge broke the “rules”:
They waited more than 48 hours to send a thank you.
However, I already knew, because the staff was so small, that they probably didn’t have a lot of bandwidth to write a thank you. I was thrilled to get a card two weeks after the donation.
It wasn’t signed by the Executive Director. In fact, it wasn’t signed by anyone.
But even better? The letter itself was written (as far as I can tell) by someone who was a direct recipient of Red Lodge Services…the organization that I had just started supporting.
-  It didn’t say what my donation was going to fund.
Nevertheless, in between the hand-written words – in the words unwritten – I could tell that my gift was making a difference.
What this thank you did right:

- Expressed appreciation (they said “thank you”).
- Oozed with authenticity (she hoped I would love the card – and I did!).
- Was super positive.
- Had information about Red Lodge on the back of the card.
- Made me want to give a second gift (and I have).
Thank yous are important. They make people feel valued. They can make people feel connected to you and your mission. They matter.
I’ll leave you with one last gift Red Lodge gave me in my thank you card – A Blessing for You and Your Family Circle:

May the sun bring you new energy by day
May the moon softly restore you by night
May the rain wash away your worries
May the breeze blow new strength into your beings
And all the days of your lives
May you walk gently through the world and know its beauty.

Here’s to breaking rules and here’s to thanking your people.

Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. For nearly 25 years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. You can watch Jimmy Fallon and Michelle Obama write thank you notes here. Cesie is available to consult with churches. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity or at CesieScheuermann.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.