The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact | A Review

November 19, 2018

I always used to joke that I was a military brat — without the military. You see, when I was a kid, we moved around. A lot. When I entered fourth grade, it was the fifth school I had attended.

And, as a painstakingly shy kid, I learned how to make friends fast. In the fourth grade, I met my best friend for life.

Dawn was the anchor I needed. The youngest of three, she came from a hyper-traditional nuclear family. Her mother wore an apron, dress and pearls, baked cookies, headed up the PTA, chaperoned every school trip, and was always there for Dawn. And me. Dawn and I spent hours perched in the branches of her backyard walnut tree reading, playing Madame Curie (It was that or Helen Keller — female role models were scarce), or riding our bikes until dusk fell. Yeah, total dorks.

So, when Dawn began to distance herself from me in the sixth grade and hang out with other girls, I was puzzled — and hurt! It went on for weeks and I finally resigned myself to the loss of my *bestie.* Until the day she asked, “Why don’t you come over after school?”

I raced home to drop off my books and change. When I arrived at Dawn’s house, her mother was in her usual spot in the family lounge chair. “She’s downstairs,” she said, indicating the playroom. I headed on down, only to be greeted by a chorus of

“Surprise!!! Happy Birthday, Pam!”

Surprise, indeed. All this time, my best friend had been hanging out with our other classmates to plan my birthday party! It was one of those magical moments I’ve never forgotten. I felt loved. Cherished. Recognized.

How are you recognizing your donors?

In the new book, The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact, authors Chip and Dan Heath reflect on exactly what elements go into creating the memorable moments of our lives. Unsurprisingly, recognition, like my friend gave me on my 12th birthday, is one of the best ways.

We often hear the admonition to *Treat Every Donor Like a Major Donor.* Some would say that it’s a worthy goal, but not always practical or possible. Or is it? In Moments, the Heath brothers cite DonorsChoose as an example of how you can scale up magical recognition moments.

DonorsChoose.org is a crowdfunding-based nonprofit organization that allows individuals to donate directly to public school classroom projects. On the supporter-side, donors receive thank-you letters from the students they support. On the students-side, teachers have found that students benefit from “realizing that there are people who want them to succeed” and appreciating them.

Since their founding in 2000, DonorsChoose.org has sent thank-you letters, hand-written by the students. Guess what? In 2014, they analyzed their data and discovered that the donors who opted to receive thank you letters made larger donations the next year. Gratitude plays an essential role in DonorsChoose — and it’s one of the ways they create moments for their donors.

You can incorporate the Heath brothers’ research into your work.

How can you create memorable, magical moments? The kind of moments that lead to your donors viewing you as their *favorite* charity?

One of the best ways is by learning to be better at gratitude. There’s no diplomatic way to say it. Nonprofits tend to be notoriously awful at expressing thanks, either by not thanking at all, or by thanking by way of receipt. Imagine writing the kind of thank you letters that generate thanks for the thank you! Another way might be the simple act of surveying your donors or soliciting their feedback. What about celebrating a monthly donor’s milestone gift?

The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact is a very applicable read for nonprofit organizations. And it serves as a reminder to make gratitude the cornerstone of your development efforts.

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