Take the Time to Live Gratefully

OpEd by Marnie Taylor, President and CEO

One of my favorite phrases from my dear friend, Pat Potts, is “Thanksgiving is Thanksliving.” Every November, I, like so many of you, take time to reflect on the past year and embrace a sense of gratitude both personally and professionally.

As our United Ways across the state are wrapping up campaigns, our nonprofits are gearing up for end-of-year giving. I urge all of our charitable organizations and congregations throughout Oklahoma to be thinking about their process of expressing gratitude to their donors. Some of these processes are formal, such as sending thank-you letters, receipts and other correspondence.

I also want nonprofits to think about the more personal ways to express gratitude for the gifts, partnerships, volunteers and leaders that help us put our missions to work for Oklahomans everywhere.

For me, one of those personal touchpoints is as simple as a real, hand-written signature with a “lovely note.” Whenever possible, I hand-sign everything from solicitations to thank-you notes to notes of congratulations. I always personalize. And when I receive personalized notes, it makes me grateful for the friendship that I have with the writer.

I’m also a fan of picking up a phone and calling someone to express gratitude. Hearing a voice allows me to deliver that thank-you in real time. More importantly, it gives both of us an opportunity to share in the gratitude, the success and camaraderie in the partnership that makes our work possible.

Finally, I’m a firm believer in keeping a gratitude journal. When we actively write something down – something we are grateful for – it helps us develop what my good friend John Armitage calls ‘an attitude of gratitude.” When we are grateful, that rubs off on others. By adopting that attitude, we can transform not only our perspectives but the others around us.

I urge nonprofits to make gratitude part of their workplace and board culture. Be thankful for your staff and board. Be grateful of the gifts of your donors. Express gratitude to those partners and collaborators that help enhance your mission. As we live generously in this season of giving and thanksgiving, let us all live gratefully.

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