Celebrations: After the Happy Dance

A recent LinkedIn discussion centered on how nonprofits celebrate when they win a grant. Turns out, many “do the happy dance!” One writer reported her organization rings a cow bell so that everyone hears the good news. Another indulges in small treats, such as a cupcake or a new e-book.

What’s missing?

Or who? That’s right, the funder! After all, it takes two to tango, and even the Harlem Shake is no fun if you do it alone. If funded nonprofits want to talk about how they celebrate, so should funders. So let’s ask them.

In fact, let’s put it in a quick, five or six question survey that goes out with our sincere letter of thanks. Now, I’m not talking about the tax receipt telling your funder their check has been received. I’m talking about a personal letter – the old-fashioned, snail-mail kind – that shares your enthusiasm about how your organization will be able to provide better service, serve more people or do whatever your proposal promised. (If you don’t already have one, Pamela Grow offers a great template thank-you letter complete with a sample P.S. for the survey.)

The “Partnership Kick-Off Survey” might ask:

  1. How do you prefer to be contacted (email, telephone, postal mail)?
  2. How often do you want to hear about the program you’re funding?
  3. What recognition do you find most meaningful? (Just as people are introverted or extroverted, funders may want public or private recognition. A plaque in the lobby is not a one-size-fits-all celebration.)
  4. Can we announce your contribution in a news release, newsletter, or in other ways?
  5. What should we use in program materials (your organization’s full name, logo, approved description, etc.)?
  6. Can we have a copy of your report form now, so that we capture and track the details that are most important to you?

Then close it with another thank you: We look forward to continuing the conversation about how your funding helps create X, Y or Z.

Making the Connection: Who wants a thank-you letter from a dance party they weren’t invited to attend? Let’s start inviting our funders to help us celebrate by asking what kind of recognition is most meaningful to them.

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