A Thank You Makes a Difference

July 3, 2018 by
Lauren Zook

THANK YOU! It is so easy to say, yet often forgotten. We teach this simple phrase to children when they are little, and we often correct them if they forget to say it. So, what happens as we get older, get busier, have less time and add more on our plate? We forget to say thank you. Yet, these two words make a world of difference and make an individual feel valued and appreciated.

A thank you comes in many different forms, from a handshake, a phone call, a quick handwritten note, to homemade baked goods – to be honest, it does not break the bank to say thank you. So why does it always get pushed down on our long list of to do’s each day?

The number one action item that any nonprofit leader should do daily is thank a volunteer. Make it your daily habit, carve out time each day to write a note, make a phone call or send a picture. These vital individuals play an incredible role within any organization and when they don’t feel valued or appreciated, they begin to question if they are truly needed. And as we all know, they ARE needed! Nonprofits cannot succeed if they don’t have volunteers helping further the mission.

The other day, an 11-year-old boy reminded me just how important a thank you is. Running is my favorite pastime, but more importantly I love showing kids that running can be a fun, lifelong skill. So, I, along with numerous other adults, volunteer my time to coach cross country. After we finished practice this 11-year-old boy walked up to every coach, shook each of our hands and said, “Coach, thank you for coaching me today.” Wow – just like that I felt appreciated and valued for the time I spent coaching these kids.

So, as you look ahead at your week, think about who you can thank each day! But make each thank you personalized. Listen and learn from each volunteer and donor and customize their thank you with what will resonate well with them. It doesn’t break the financial bank at all to do, instead it fills up the bank of appreciation and value for a volunteer. And that bank, I promise, will reap high returns for a lifetime!


Lauren Zook

Lauren rejoins Lighthouse Counsel with more than 16 years of experience in creating and implementing nonprofit fundraising campaigns. As consultant and client support director, she consults with clients in fundraising, strategic planning and board development, as well as coordinate client support services. Most recently, Lauren was director of development and alumni relations at St. Paul Christian Academy in Nashville where she led the annual giving campaign to exceed its goals. Prior to that, she was a development director for the YMCA of Middle Tennessee, a client support team member with Lighthouse Counsel and the annual fund coordinator and planned giving assistant at WGBH, a PBS member television station in Boston.