A Simple Thank You!

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By Marlow Gingerich, Gift Planning Consultant

Time, Talent, and Treasure

It seems Canadians are busier now then they ever have been, and finding balance is proving the holy grail quest of our age. Despite the competing demands of modern life, many continue to hold fast to the age-old exhortation to give freely of our “time, talent, and treasure”. This comprehensive approach to giving encompasses donating funds, serving with our talents, and volunteering our time. It might mean volunteering at the thrift store or coaching a local sports team, leading worship music on a Sunday morning, and donating money to charity. That’s a lot of giving, and all too often, the Pareto principle of “20% of the people do 80% of the work” applies.  So, how do we avoid the dreaded generosity burnout?

Giving Too Much?

Generosity burnout occurs when giving is no longer fulfilling. People who once spent hours volunteering start to resent time away from family. People known for always saying ‘yes’ start to say ‘no’. Unchecked, generosity burnout often culminates with a hard break and a lot of hurt feelings. Experts have identified several steps to help volunteers avoid burn out. From setting clear expectations to fostering the best environment; but time and again, the most critical motivator turns out to be a simple ‘thank you’.

A Simple Acknowledgment

I spend a fair bit of time working with volunteers and have seen firsthand the positive impact of simply acknowledging their efforts. The coach of the sports team lights up when I thank him for helping the team improve over the season. The teacher at church says ‘yes’ to teaching a class next September when I make sure to thank her for leading the children this year.

People truly enjoy being acknowledged. They want to know that their time, effort, work and diligence are noticed and appreciated. This does not mean they are looking for grand gestures or gifts of appreciation – just a few heartfelt words between individuals can make all the difference. A thank you doesn’t have to cost you anything.

How Will You Say Thank You?

So, find a way to thank a volunteer this week. Share a thoughtful word. Send a short email. Surprise someone with a token of your appreciation. Write a card and drop it in the mail. Most of us don’t have to look very far to find a volunteer who is impacting our lives, either as individuals or as part of a larger community. By taking the time to say ‘thank you’, we can all help this expression of generosity thrive in our communities!

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