On Gratitude and Culture


I love this question from Tim Sarrantonio at Neon.

Do we think enough about what gratitude is, what it means and how we truly express gratitude to our donors?  Sure, we talk about donor retention rate and the crisis it is in our sector, but do we really, truly express gratitude?

Or are we implementing “donor retention strategies” and “Donor Love” because it’s a process we need to put in place to raise more money and hit goals.

Enter the always incredible, always right, team at the Agitator/Donor Voice.

From their recent blog “What Does a Great Supporter Journey and Experience Look Like in 2019″? 

Before undertaking any change initiative, I’d spend a significant amount of time thinking about what behaviours and attributes you need from project team members and how you get their buy-in and enthusiasm.

— Craig Linton, UK Managing Director, DonorVoice, May 10, 2019

There were so many really good, really tough discussions at the AFP ICON conference in San Antonion last month.  One jaw dropping moment was when this question came up in an Rebels, Renegades and Pioneers session:  “Do we treat our employees with the same care and attention that we do our donors?  Are we showing Donor Love to our own staff?”

It’s a powerful question.

Because genuine gratitude, like giving, is a heart thing not a head thing.  To truly feel grateful, we have to be in a place awe and vulnerability and emotional security.

Please read this powerful piece on the psychology of gratitude.


It is the recognition that the good in our life can come from something that is outside us and outside our control—be it other people, nature, or a higher power—and that owes little or nothing to us.


Gratitude requires cultivation.  Are we cultivating gratitude in our work environments?

Isn’t this what we’re all striving for – to feel accepted, like we belong, like we’re needed?

If we need our team members to express more gratitude to our donors, are we fostering of culture gratitude in our own shops?  Are we treating our colleagues and co-workers with awe and wonder . . . . or are we keeping score of all the things they’ve done wrong?

Are we leading from a sense of gratitude?  Or are we looking for the next write up/disciplinary action?

Donor retention is going to work in direct proportion to organizational culture.   If we’re not already operating in gratitude, seems like it’s going to be darn near impossible to truly, beautifully express it externally.



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