Danke schoen, donors.

In the nonprofit world, cash isn’t always king. Sometimes the best currency is gratitude. And for my money, there’s no better way to express gratitude than with a handwritten thank you note. That’s why, taking a cue from Jimmy Fallon, I’ve designated Fridays as my “thank you notes” day. I write out thank you and congratulatory notes every week for people in my network. Those notes are about gratitude, certainly, and celebrating good news, but it’s more than that. It’s an investment in a relationship.

Handwritten notes of all varieties (thank you, congratulations, condolences, thinking of you, etc.) all serve one purpose, regardless of the message they carry. Taking the time to write a letter to someone is, I think, the clearest way to say, “I care about you. I value our relationship.”


I almost always hear back from the people I send a note to. Those handwritten notes, particularly in the digital age, mean a lot to the recipients. My best friend just sent me a handwritten thank you this week for helping her with a special project. It made me smile, and it made me feel cherished and important. I like to think that everyone I send a note also feels that way, too.

Of course, not all notes can be meaningful handwritten missives. I send about 20 letters a week to people who have donated merchandise to my organization. While I do frequently jot down quick notes at the bottom of letters I’m sending to frequent donors or friends, the thank you notes I send to donors tend to be formal letters. That’s not only to save some time, but to ensure that we’re complying with IRS regulations and donor expectations.

When is the last time you sent a handwritten note to someone? Or better yet, when’s the last time you received a handwritten note? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.