“Gratitude means nothing if you haven’t mastered the art of expressing it.”—Brett and Kate McKay
We know the importance of thanking people for kind things they do. Thanking ministry partners tops the list! But in our electronic age, do we understand the significance of a paper-and-ink thank-you note? Ellie Jacobson, a blogger from Minneapolis, explains it well.
As we become more dependent on computers, the art of saying thank you through a paper card or note fades away. Like most, I have used electronic cards as a quick way to say thank you, but sending a real paper card is one of the nicest tokens of appreciation you can give someone these days. I'm rarely excited to open my mailbox, but when I find something personal, like a card, I smile and I keep that card in my office to remind me of its sender (paraphrase).
Imagine: If your ministry partners are anything like Ellie, they’ll receive a note from you, tack it up on their bulletin board, think of you daily, pray for you often, and feel happy about being part of your life and ministry. No matter whom you’re thanking, a written card, unlike email, shows effort, is more personal, and makes your sentiment more sincere.
These tips will help make writing thank-you notes easier.
-Keep a supply of stationery. Find something to suit your taste and budget. Many craft stores offer note cards at $1.00 a pack. Websites like www.expressionery.com offer personalized, quality papers. Or the Navigator online store offers a selection of cards. Stock up.
-Keep a supply of stamps. The lack of a stamp could derail sending a timely thank-you note. Again, stock up.
-Immediacy. Did you just see a gift from a new partner appear in your account? Drop everything and write a note. When thanking people for a dinner or an appointment, mail a note within a week. Respond to people’s kindness as soon as possible.
-Be personal. Begin with, “Dear [Friend’s Name].” Spelling counts!
-Express your gratitude. “Thank you for ______________.” If the gift was money, use a euphemism. Instead of “Thank you for the money,” say “Thank you for your kindness/generosity/gift.”
-Mention specific details about how you plan to use a gift or what you enjoyed about an experience. This is true even for a monetary gift. Tell givers how their gift to your ministry will advance the Kingdom or help change one person’s life for eternity, provide training, etc. If you are thanking someone for dinner, be specific about what you enjoyed about it. If you are thanking someone for a present, tell the recipient how you plan to use it.
-Add some news about your life, or ask a question about theirs. If you receive a gift from a person you see infrequently who would like to know more about what’s going on in your life (are you mailing regular newsletters to ministry partners?), briefly recap recent events. If you’d like to invite additional communication, ask the reader a question. Maybe you’ll receive a pen-and-ink note too!
-Repeat your thanks. “Thank you again for the gift,” makes the perfect last line.
-Valediction. Choose a closing that appropriately conveys the level of your relationship with the recipient. These neutral valedictions can fit a wide variety of situations and relationships:
– Yours truly
– Kindest Regards
– In Him
-Sign your name legibly. Hopefully you’ve used your best penmanship throughout, but make sure your name is easy to read. Do you have a common first name? Then also include your last name or be certain that your last name appears in the return address on the envelope for easy identification.
If you have a favorite thank-you phrase, please email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some material adapted from www.theartofmanliness.com.
Molly Gilberts, MPD Communications
Contact Molly by email at email@example.com.