Power of Storytelling | Yes, it’s really Elizabeth Warren…with a lesson in gratitude!

March 26, 2019


Elizabeth Warren is fiercely blazing the campaign trails. And right now, she’s here to teach you an important lesson: Your best starting point is always gratitude.
This recent video clip she released, which is just under five minutes long, made my heart sing. You must check it out, no matter how you feel about her personally. In the video, Warren takes time out from her busy schedule to make personal calls to some of the small dollar donors of her campaign. She thanks them for contributing their support. She makes them feel good about themselves. Their reactions are…amazing. The calls typically begin with disbelief, and once they realize that yes, Elizabeth Warren *is* calling them, things get emotional. She goes beyond delighting and inspiring her people. The interactions captured here are deeply human and wonderful to see.

You can see clearly how gratitude is Warren’s starting point. Dollar amount means nothing. And why should it? Warren wants to convey she’s here for everyone. She is not here just for the wealthy and for the big-time donors. Inclusivity is a vital aspect of her mission, and she makes that abundantly clear…through gratitude.
For me, Warren is reinforcing an important idea that I’ve carried close to me for a while. You see, my work with a small nonprofit in the mid-aughts proved an invaluable lesson in the power of thank you. Back in 2005, I’d only just begun my work with a small nonprofit (with an annual budget of around $500k). While they had seen growth over the past five years, most of their funding was grant-based. They knew that in order to grow their programming they would need to expand their individual base of support.
I had just sent out my first annual appeal to our tiny donor base, and the returns were beginning to trickle in. Around that time, I stumbled upon an article from social scientist and thought leader Hildy Gottlieb. It was about how one unforgettable donor thank you call that Hilde made changed everything. It was about how this call motivated Hildy to keep on calling donors, regardless of the size of their gifts, and how wonderful it was for her to witness the impact she, and her phone call, had made on the first donor she called. Not only did the donor experience joy, but Hildy did, too.
After reading Hildy’s article, I decided to make an important decision. It was a choice that would impact both our individual giving program and my own practice from then on out.
So what did I do? I made sure to call each and every donor, soon after their gift came in. During these phone calls, I would always ask what prompted their gift. In terms of making our individual giving program a reality, this was the right move to make. Looking back on it now, I can’t picture a better way to begin an individual giving program. The results over at the small nonprofit spoke for themselves. Within a relatively short period of time, we’d doubled our funding. As the phone calls continued, the growth continued beyond that point, too. It was a process, but it was one worth doing, and as time went on, it became second nature.
Always begin with gratitude. It will never steer you wrong. Click To TweetGratitude is the ideal starting point for getting you to where you’d like to be. Thank you phone calls are such a simple strategy to implement, and yet it’s a highly effective one. Have you made it a habit yet? If not, ask yourself why, and think about taking the steps to make it happen. The more calls you make, the more comfortable you’ll feel. The more comfortable you feel, the easier time you’ll have showing your donors that you appreciate them.

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