Uncommon Gratefulness

“One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?” (Luke 17:15-17).

Hopefully, your mom taught you to always say, “Please” and “Thank You.” It seems insignificant, but genuine thankfulness is rare. All ten lepers asked Jesus to heal them, and he restored each one to full health. Only one stopped in his tracks, returned to praise God, and personally thanked Jesus for his miraculous healing. Jesus questioned, “Where are the other nine?” They all just walked away enjoying their new gift of life.

Non-profits are constantly asking for gifts, but how many sincerely express thanks to their donors? When organizations neglect to say, “thank you,” they risk far more than leprosy. Learn these four lessons.

Thankfulness has an expiration date.

Milk cartons have a “best when used by” date for a reason. “Thank-yous” also have a short shelf life. The grateful Samaritan immediately praised God and thanked Jesus for his wonderful gift. How well your organization shows appreciation to donors determines whether your donor cultivation cycle keeps moving forward or grinds to a halt. Send a personalized handwritten note, a small appreciation gift, or a brief video greeting from someone who benefited from the gift. Thank your donor seven times before asking for another gift.

Thankfulness sets you apart from the crowd.

First-time donors who receive a personal thank-you call within 48 hours are four times more likely to give again. Bloomerang, a fundraising software company, made a $5 donation to fifty non-profits to test their gift acknowledgement processes. None of them called to say, “Thank You.” In this age of annoying telemarketing calls, many organizations are afraid to call donors—but a personal thank you call will set your ministry apart from the rest. Don’t be like the other nine lepers.

Thankfulness cultivates deeper relationships.

When this former leper turned back to show his appreciation, he received an even greater gift from Jesus. “Your faith has made you well” (Luke 17:19). Thankfulness deepens your relationship to God because you offer to him “a sacrifice of praise” (Heb. 13:15). Your gratitude also encourages your donors by acknowledging how their generosity made an eternal difference. Ministry partners should never feel their gifts are expected, taken for granted, or unappreciated.

Thankfulness should reflect praise to God.

Scripture gives only one example of someone thanking another individual—all the other verses direct our thanks to God. Deuteronomy 24:13 says, “Return their cloak by sunset so that your neighbor may sleep in it. Then they will thank you, and it will be regarded as a righteous act in the sight of the Lord your God.” Paul taught, “your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” (2 Cor. 9:11). He emulated an attitude of gratitude with Philemon, “I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers” (Philemon 1:4). Thank God and your ministry partners for their generosity!

Think about this:
The hour you spend each week thanking donors could be the best hour of your week!

Father, thank you for our partners who sacrificially give to support our ministry.

Ron Haas has served the Lord as a pastor, the vice president of advancement of a Bible college, a Christian foundation director, a board member and a fundraising consultant. He’s authored three books: Ask for a Fish – Bold Faith-Based Fundraising, Simply Share – Bold, Grace-Based Giving, and Keep on Asking – Bold, Spirit-Led Fundraising. He regularly presents fundraising workshops at ministry conferences and has written fundraising articles for  Christian Leadership Alliance’s Outcomes magazine.

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