376 Ways to Give Good Gratitude

Heart shape handsDid you feel a slight shift in the atmosphere last Wednesday at 1pm Pacific? A wave of well-being that you couldn’t place? A yearning to thank your barista just a little bit more vociferously than usual?

That’s because right about then me, Shanon Doolittle, and about 250 of our closest friends were dishing about good gratitude. Good grief did we have fun!

Shanon always wows with her practical, yet totally inspired tips for donor love.  The Goddess of Gratitude did not disappoint. (I wasn’t actually counting but I think 376 is a pretty good guestimate of how many ideas Shanon gave out during the webinar. All very doable, by the way.)

Want to hear a surprising thing Shanon said about writing a thank you note?

Don’t start with: “Thank you for…”

Nope, start with something zippier. You expect a thank you note to start with the words “Thank you.” The expected rarely dazzles a donor. (The Wordifier has your back when it comes to finding better words, don’t you worry.)

Kiss boring thank you notes to curb and get your gratitude train going full steam ahead as you head into 2017.  Listen to the recording of this free, fun-filled webinar.

(Plus you’ll learn how Shanon and I met, which is a fun little story.)

Listen right here, right now. >>


#GivingTuesday Gratitude (& a free webinar)

gratitude, fundraising, free webinarPhew. You made it through another #GivingTuesday. Awesome!

Now what?

Have you thought about how to thank the fab donors who donated to you on #GivingTuesday?

Have you pondered how you’re going to handle the thank-then-turn-around-and-ask tango that happens between #GivingTuesday and year-end?

Do you have ideas for how to infuse gratitude into your donor loooooooove strategy so you have an explosive, joy-filled fundraising year in 2017?

Maybe a tidge? Maybe not at all? Maybe you have but want new ideas for changing things up?

Well have I got good news for you: I’m doing a free webinar next week with the Goddess of Gratitude, Shanon Doolittle!!!!

Gratitude-a-palooza: A gazillion ways to make your donors feel like rock stars
Wednesday, December (yikes, December!) 7, 2016


1-2Pm Pacific

Can’t join us live? No big. It’ll be recorded. But you have to sign up to get the recording. So sign up, sit back, and soak up all the ideas me and Shanon have to share with you.

Oh, yeah, we’ll also have lots of time to answer your questions so bring ’em on!

Webinars, Sumall, and bobby socks

It’s Sumall. That magical, fleeting time when Summer transitions to Fall. Personally, I have a total crush on Sumall–it’s still light out when I wake up, but the vibe is decidedly calmer. BBQs and shorts give way to soups and sweaters.

Leaves change. Light shifts. Love it.

That shifting of light and leaves doesn’t just mean swapping out your wardrobe, however. It means it’s time to put away your hula hoop and head back to school.

Confession: I have resisted doing webinars. I like seeing people learn. Watching someone’s face light up when they “get it”. But one of the things that is extremely, very, exceptionally important to me is that everyone who is on a mission to make the world a better place has access to info to help them do their job as efficiently and effectively as possible. And that means eeking out everything the internet has to offer when it comes to on-line learning and doing. That’s why we created the Wordifier. That’s why we launched Claxon University. And that’s why I had to get over my aversion to doing webinars.

And I’m really glad I did. Because in August, we offered our very first webinar. And, well, wow. 500+ people signed up. We covered a ton of tips and tricks about putting your words on a mission. And we had a good time, despite a few vexing tech glitches. (If you missed it, you can listen here.)

We had so much fun and got so much great feedback that guess what? We’re going to offer another webinar. This one will be about…drum roll please…

The Secret(s) to Successful Year-end Appeals

October 12 from 1-2 Pacific

Like the Wordifier, and Claxon U, you’ll be able to access this webinar wherever you are. And whenever you want. Will it be more fun to join the webinar live? Well, of course, silly. You get to make comments, and ask questions, and get answers. On the spot. But we all know you’re busy, so sometimes joining live won’t be possible. No problem whatsoever. The webinar will all be recorded. Ready and waiting for you to watch whenever it works for you. (See a theme here…?)

If this one goes well, we might just add webinars to our regular docket of offerings. We have lots of ideas for webinar topics: How to Write Killer Calls-to-Action, Gratitude as an Engagement Strategy, How to Test Your Messaging with a Shoestring Budget.

I’m curious: what webinar topics would you like me to see Claxon offer? Let me know in the comments.

You’ll be seeing more from me and the team about this webinar, but if I were you (because, yeah I admit it, I’m a planner), I’d sign up and get it on your calendar right this very minute. It’ll up the odds you can join me live. #Funsies

Happy Fall!

bobbyP.S. Curious about the bobby sock reference? Sign up for the webinar and I’ll tell you what that’s all about. It has to do with one of my favorite back-to-school outfits and a secret snatched from neuroscience that you’ll be able to use to great effect in your year-end appeal. Oh the suspense!

Post Readability Stats: Reading Ease: 77.3, Grade Level: 5.2

Alert, alert: We’ve got a gratitude deficit on our hands!

thank you in metal typeIn sifting through the data from our Wordifier research (the free tool that helps you amplify your words), I came across a startling–and depressing–discovery:  Not all nonprofits are thanking their supporters!

Gasp. Sigh. Forehead slap. Yipes!

The word ‘thank’ (as in ‘Thank you’) showed up on 54.3% of the websites. ‘Thanks’ made an appearance on 34.6% of the sites.

If we’re being generous, that means that some form of gratitude shows up on 88.9% of nonprofit websites. But in perusing the raw data, it looks like organizations who use one of these words, also use the other, meaning organizations that loverize their donors double down on that love, i.e. some form of gratitude likely doesn’t show up on 88.9% of the websites, but rather a smaller number of websites.

That there are any nonprofits with gratitude-less websites hanging out on the interwebs should be a wake-up call to us all. Gratitude is free, bountiful and feels awesome to give and receive. Here’s a Language Lab podcast devoted to the amazingness that is gratitude.

When we gather the Wordifier data in future years, I want us to be living in a world free of gratitude-less websites.

Thank YOU, dear reader, for being awesome and amazing and doing the wonderful work you do to change the world!


Now that’s how you say Thank You!

I’ve written a fair amount on this blog about gratitude and giving thanks. It’s super duper important when it comes to marketing…and life in general.  In addition to ‘non-profit‘ and ‘provide‘, showing gratitude is a soapbox I regularly haul out and hop on top of (look here and here to see what I mean).

So when I got these stupendously awesome thank you notes, I wanted to be sure to share them with you. Cuz who doesn’t need a little inspiration in their life?!

This first one came from Michael Stringer, one of the conference co-chairs of the Oregon Nonprofit Leaders Conference (which, by the way, is possibly the best run conference I’ve ever been privileged enough to be a part of). Although written on letterhead, which can feel more formal, his thank you is warm, genuine and personalized. Look at how he incorporated the content from my sessions into the thank you by swapping out “elevator speeches” for “pitches”. Love this guy!

Oregon Nonprofit Leaders Conference, thank you, gratitude,











The next two are from came our way because, as a way of showing gratitude to Claxon fabulous clients, we  made a donation in their name via Donors Choose so that a third grade class could start a book club. Every single student wrote a thank you note. Every single one. These are two of about 25 that we received. Um…awesome!

gratitude, thank you notes, Donors Choose

If  8  year olds can knock gratitude out of the park, so can you! Your thank yous don’t need to be fancy–they need to be genuine, heart-felt, authentic.

Be creative. Have fun. Notes, phone calls, social media shout-outs, profiles in your newsletters–the ways in which you can show gratitude are almost endless. How will you show gratitude?


Words of Gratitude – Use Often [#WordsThatWow]

[This is the last post in our #WordsThatWow series. Read the rest of the posts here.]

nonprofit, nonprofit marketing, fundraising, language, best practicesI would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. ~G.K. Chesterton

Right, so, here’s the thing–we simply don’t show enough gratitude. By ‘we’, I mean pretty much all of us. Not just nonprofits. Many times in any given day I think, “Dang, I am grateful to that person/ organization/ company/ whatever for that bit of goodness they are putting out to the world.” But thinking it isn’t the same as saying it or showing it. As G. B. Stern said, “Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.”

Words of Gratitude come in all shapes and sizes. Here’s some inspiration!

In short, show gratitude whenever possible. So many people contribute to your nonprofit’s success–donors, volunteers, community supporters, etc. etc. Make sure they know how much you appreciate them. And remember that expressing gratitude not only makes the person you’re talking to feel good, it makes you feel good, too.

Thank you for reading this post!


Stop recognizing your assets

nonprofit, nonprofit marketing, fundraising, language, best practices[This is the latest installment in our #WordsThatWow series. You can read the others here and you can download the infographic here.]

Your supporters like to be recognized and all nonprofits need assets. So why, you might wonder, did the words ‘recognition’ and ‘assets’ end up on the Use With Caution section of the 2014 List of Words that Wow?

They ended up there because nonprofits are generally doing a lousy job of using them to their full potential. They’ve been de-humanized.

  • Recognition: When you think about recognition, you want to think about it not just as acknowledgment but as “appreciation of the value of an achievement”. You shouldn’t merely recognize your supporters for their contributions of time, treasure and talent–you should be showering them with love and gratitude!  It’s like the auto-magically generated super boring thank you letters that most organizations send out–it goes out, you check off the box, and then move on to the next thing because you’ve technically thanked them. Not cool, people, not cool. There’s no reason for those letters to be boring. What would it look like to truly, fully recognize your donors, volunteers, advocates, fans and supporters for the value of their achievement? Do that.
  • Assets: When you say ‘assets’, what are you really saying? An asset is “something or somebody of value”. When you refer to ‘organizational assets’, you might be referring to dollars in the bank, or computers, or a coffee machine, or some other inanimate object. But sometimes, we’re talking about animate objects, i.e. people. If you’re referring to people–staff, board, volunteers, etc–say ‘people’. Referring to people as assets creates distance, it’s sterile, cold. Unless you want a cold, sterile relationship with the people who are working hard to advance your mission, stop referring to them ‘assets’.  It’s just kind of weird.

In sum: Less recognition of assets. More showering people with gratitude.



Are you a first impression flop?

New supporters are often your loudest supporters. This makes them really super duper important. They are like new converts–singing the gospel of awesome at the top of their lungs. For a brief period of time, you are that gospel of awesome.

Do you motivate new supporters to sing your praises by making a fantastic first impression? Do you make them feel like VIPs?

Most organizations miss the boat on this. New donors often start out at the bottom of the proverbial pyramid. Smaller donors tend to get less organizational adoration. If you’re  looking at short-term ROI, this makes some sense. If you take a longer view and/or are looking at both your cash AND beyond cash goals (as Peter Drury helps you do with his Beyond Cash Fundraising Dashboard), it makes no sense. Zip.

Acquisition is WAY more expensive than retention. One of the lowest cost ways to keep someone happy (and singing your praises) is to shower them with luv early and often–that first volunteer gig, donation, trip to the capital is a key happy-making-shower-them-with-luv moment. And yet many non profits let this opportunity pass them by.

Shanon Doolittle, brains behind the ‘Do good. Feel better.’ blog and generator of 22 Delightful Ways to Say Thank You is possibly The Best Thank You’er Ever. She is a Gratitude Goddess.

What did Shanon do to garner these coveted accolades?

She’s creative, consistent and lightening-fast with her gratitude goodness. She spreads gratitude up and down the donor pyramid…and is especially generous with newly minted supporters. She makes you feel grateful you had a chance to give to whatever cause you just gave to. (In addition to her day job at Group Health Foundation, Shanon raises money for many other causes in her spare time…she’s that kind of gal).

We should all channel our inner Shanon when it comes to making a fabulous, gratitude-infused first impression.

Are you making a fab-tastic first impression? Or are you a (gulp) first impression flop?

photo credit: SnoShuu via photo pin cc


Mission-Motivated Messaging Checklist

mission, messaging, checklist. non profits
Got your why? Check!

This morning, I got to spend time at the PNAIS Advancement Conference. I did a session on Marketing Your Mission in 3 Easy Steps. No matter how many times I present on this topic, I’m always 1) humbled by the AMAZING work being done to make the world a better place and 2) reminded how little time we spend on the Why of it all.

Directly after my presentation, I got to hear Susan Howlett speak. Susan is responsible for transforming thousands of organizations through her work with boards. Her book Boards on Fire is setting the world of fundraising on fire!

In her session, Susan encouraged us to heed Simon Sinek’s advice to start with the why–and to keep going back to the why. Not just start with why, but to lead with why from start to finish. Sprinkle in some what and how, sure, but elevate the why.

For some reason, the mission-motivated of the world shy away from sharing their why. Why be shy about your why?

In an effort to stop this “Shy About Why” epidemic, I created a Mission-Motivated Messaging Checklist. The next time you are going to communicate about your organization, run down the following list:

  1. Why? Why does your organization exist? Why should someone care about what you’re doing?
  2. Why you? Of all the organizations out there, why should someone engage with you? What makes you special? Compelling?
  3. Why now? What makes now the time for someone to take action?
  4. What  now? What, specifically, do you want the person to do? Make it clear and make it easy. (Note: If you’re writing a Thank You note, for instance, the “action” might be to feel really, really good about the impact they’ve had. This isn’t a plug to always make an ask. It’s a plug for always being clear on what you hope the person on the receiving will feel and, when appropriate, do.)

If you address all of these, you’ll be in good shape.

Are you shy about your why? If so, why?


Do you communicate as effectively as you think?


Do you communicate as effectively as you think?