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Best Practice: Scheduling Thank-Yous

As one of their volunteers, I just received an email from Treehouse, a Seattle-area nonprofit that sponsors programs for kids in foster care. Here is one of the volunteer opportunities listed:

Champions Thank-You Note Mailing
Tuesday, March 31, 3:30 p.m. SHARP until 6 p.m. 
We are looking for enthusiastic volunteers with good handwriting to fill out, hand address, stuff, stamp, and seal donor thank you cards.

After an inspirational fundraiser, we rush back to the office to prepare thank you cards to over 1000 donors to mail by 6 p.m. so that they receive their tax receipt and thank you note the very next day! There will be snacks and a very fun and celebratory atmosphere. 

This volunteer listing warms my heart. It shows the care with which Treehouse treats its donors–and its volunteers. And it shares tips for all of us who want to build good work relationships:

  • Treehouse sets aside time immediately after an event to thank donors. 
  • The thank-you notes will be individual, handwritten, hand addressed, and very prompt. 
  • The notes will include the item donors need for tax purposes: a receipt. 
  • Volunteers will have fun celebrating while they prepare the thank-yous. 
  • Volunteers know the time, place (it's listed elsewhere), and the purpose of the activity. It feels well coordinated and inviting. 

Can your organization or company learn something from how Treehouse operates? 

I will be at the Champions for Foster Kids Luncheon on March 31. It feels terrific to support an organization that does good in our community and does it well. 

Syntax Training

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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

4 comments on “Best Practice: Scheduling Thank-Yous”

  • This is a great idea, Lynn! I’m reminded of the famous thank you notes from U.S. Presidents, and how many of them reserved time just for writing thank you notes.

    The important thing is to personalize the note, so the recipient doesn’t feel like it’s just a standard automated thank you form. Adding a little bit about your customer’s order, business associate’s recent project, or a donor’s participation in a fundraiser provides a positive reminder of your association and creates a good feeling.

  • I love Treehouse! I used to attend their yearly breakfast fundraiser when I lived in Seattle. There was never a dry eye. They have certainly captivated how to appeal to the public in many aspects which is why they are so successful and have a good image in the community.
    I, too, am an advocate of the personal handwritten thank you and have my young daughter practicing the same appreciation. I still say that there is nothing better than receiving a card in the mail to perk up your day and show someone you care.

  • Hi Eryn,

    You and I agree on thank-you notes and on passing on their importance to our children. When I don’t receive thank-yous from young people for cash gifts, I question whether it makes sense to continue to send gifts. Knowing someone is grateful adds to the joy in giving.


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