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 Jesus noted that a spirit of 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, came back to praise God, and personally thanked Jesus for his miraculous healing. Jesus questioned, “Where are the other nine?” They just walked away enjoying their new gift of life.

Non-profits are constantly asking for gifts, but how many genuinely express thanks to their donors? It’s easy just to move on and focus on today’s challenges, but organizations that neglect to say, “thank you,” risk more than leprosy. Learn these three important 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. Maybe you’ve heard this fundraising proverb: “Thank the donor seven times before asking for another gift.” Send a handwritten note, a small gift of appreciation, or a brief video from someone who benefited from the gift.

Thankfulness sets you apart from the crowd. Research has shown that 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 acknowledgment processes. Perhaps $5 didn’t meet their giving threshold, but none of the organizations called to say, “Thank You.” In this age of annoying telemarketing calls during supper, many organizations are afraid to call donors—but a thank you call will set your ministry apart from the rest.

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). Your thankfulness deepens your relationship to God because you offer to him a sacrifice of praise for prompting the gift (Hebrews 13:15). Your gratitude also deepens your relationship with your donors because they feel that their generosity made an eternal difference. Your ministry partners should never feel that their gifts are expected, taken for granted, overlooked, or unappreciated.

Response: Father, I am so grateful for our ministry partners who sacrificially give to support our ministry. Forgive me for taking them for granted by not thanking them appropriately.

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

Have a Spirit-led fundraising week,


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 two books: Ask for a Fish – Bold Faith-Based Fundraising and Simply Share – Bold, Grace-Based Giving. He regularly presents fundraising workshops at ministry conferences and has written fundraising articles for At the Center magazine and Christian Leadership Alliance’s Outcomes magazine.

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