November 24, 2008

Deconstructing Thanksgiving...

Thanksgiving is a holiday about giving thanks (duh!), but how is your organization giving thanks to its members, vendors, leaders, volunteers, etc. as we near the holiday? I'll tell you how ASAE is doing it - by sending a blast e-mail from John Graham to all of its members (which sadly I have already deleted because I would have loved to link it here...)

To me, giving thanks to the groups of people I spoke of earlier needs to be done in more of a personal way. The contrived "let's send a thank you out to everyone in the association from its leader just because it's the right thing to do" doesn't serve the association well. Everyone can see right through it, and it doesn't really achieve its intended goal - to make people feel good about the organization by thanking them for their service.

Some of you reading this are probably saying to yourselves "this guy is such a curmudgeon. He can't even take a thank you and leave it alone." The fact is that someone saying thank you should mean something, and the person saying it should know why they're thanking me... I'll tell you what - if at the next ASAE function John Graham can come up to me and tell me why he was thanking me this week, I will be impressed.

Instead of the bulk thank you, I prefer that our organization's leaders and staff members take a few minutes to thank those people who have made a difference to them personally throughout the year. This makes the volunteers/members/vendors feel as though they are being appreciated by the organization, and especially by the person with whom they work closely.

I did this last year to the people I felt deserved thanks from me, and the response was outstanding. They felt as though they were truly being thanked for their hard work (which they were), and they knew that I understood what they did to derserve the organization's thanks. Now, as we get closer to the holiday this year and we roll it out with the rest of our staff, a number of people may get more than one note. How would you feel if you received heartfelt notes of thanks from three different people in an organization to which you belong? Would you feel as though it was contrived, or would you feel as though you were making a tremendous difference to that person and the organization as a whole? I know which way I'd feel...

So I encourage you to take a few minutes and thank the people who have helped you throughout the year in a personal way this Thanksgiving. You will be doing your organization a wealth of good!

By the way, if you receive a note of thanks from me this year, don't worry, you deserve it!!


David M. Patt, CAE said...

I understand your perspective, Bruce, but I was really impressed with the ASAE thank you because I've never been thanked that way before.

The motive doesn't matter. I would have renewed anyway.

It was just the thought that counted.

Bruce Hammond said...

@David - Thanks a lot for your post. I appreciate your insights.

I guess what I should have said is any organization that says thank you to its members is doing better than those who don't. I certainly concede that point, and I wasn't necessarily trying to call ASAE out. It was the most recent bulk thank you that I had received, so I just used it as an example.

I guess I just think that personal thank yous are MUCH more effective and appreciated by members than the bulk ones.

David M. Patt, CAE said...

Absolutely. But you can't thank thousands of people personally, so you have to thank some of them in bulk.

Hopefully, they'll value the organization enough (as I did with ASAE) that they won't mind the bulk contact.