Someone told me early in ministry to never forget to say thank you in a meaningful way to volunteers who served with me. It was a few years later, with the advent of AOL (remember those days?), that I would begin to learn the power of the hand-written note as electronic communication began to rule.
Bob led our vocal team at the time, and he was the best at writing detailed and personal letters to all who sang during our weekend services. This was a lot of work, and one that bore much fruit.
While I have not taken my letter writing to Bob-levels I did take up the tasks of trying to write each person a thank you. I would soon pass this on as a “must-do” to other team members.
Over the years, I’ve walked in to offices, cubicles, and kitchens of those I’ve written. Many times, I would see the note from me pinned up, or held in place with a magnet. I think these continue to resonate to this day for a few reasons:
- Everyone loves to be thanked. No matter how large or small the task.
- Snail mail worth opening and keeping is rare. For several years, we have checked the mail (down the street) maybe once per week. 99% goes in the garbage. When we get a note that is hand written it is a treat and a keeper.
- A personal note builds community. It is way more than a text, email, or social media message. It says I wanted you to know that this act of kindness meant something more to me…
If you struggle to write (and don’t we all) here are some tips you may find helpful:
- Schedule it in your calendar. Like all things that are important you must make this a priority. If you lead a large team you aren’t going to get all them a note every week, but how many would you need to write to get to all of them in a month?
- Buy a nice pen. A development consultant told me this once and I believe it. It doesn’t have to be an expensive Mont Blanc, but find a pen that you like. It will make the experience better.
- Keep a list. Try to rotate through your long list of volunteers, donors, or team members. This way you aren’t writing the “favorites” over and over, and everyone gets to experience this blessing.
- Pray for this individual while you are writing them.
My wife and I are both privileged to be engaged in ministries around many amazing people. We both lead some volunteers (although she leads many many more than I do these days). We both continue to see the power of a hand-written note in expressing thanks and building teams.
We also love receiving them because we know the intentionality that it takes to write them.