I experienced a loss this year. And, because I am blessed with loving family, friends, and colleagues, I received numerous phone calls, emails and text messages. But what grabbed my heart was discovering several envelopes with my name and address handwritten on them (with real stamps!) as I sorted through my daily mail.

There was something wonderful about the way the stationery looked and felt, and I opened each carefully with a letter opener v. my usual ripping method. What I discovered inside were messages of love, friendship and encouragement. While these notes contained similar sentiments to the emails and texts I had received, there was something remarkable about them. I’m not sure if it was the stationery, the individuality of the penmanship on the page or that I rarely receive this kind of mail but each note made me feel…special. I knew the writers of these notes had a million other things to do in their day, so sending a few short lines on actual paper made me feel completely connected to them and a bit emotional. After reading each one a few times, I carefully put them in my desk drawer to read again when I need a bit of a boost.

As fundraisers, we spend a significant part of our day sharing our heartfelt gratitude to donors, sponsors, volunteers, team members and all the people who support our mission. We do it in many ways, all of which are genuine and authentic. Sometimes the sheer volume can make this stressful as we want to honor those that support our cause in the most meaningful way possible. Sending these communications by letter or email is not only acceptable but necessary. That said, if you really want to make someone feel special, take a few minutes more and send them a handwritten note. There is no better way to truly stand out and deepen your connection.

So, let’s commit to making a few people feel special each week. With jam packed schedules, back to back meetings, and a never-ending list of things to do, how do we get started? Here are a few tips from the pros:

  • Stationery. It is generally recommended to use 5” x 7” note cards so the message can be short and sweet. These can either be personalized with your organization’s logo/your name or you can choose your own from a selection of high quality cards from any number of stationers.
  • Pen. The experts say most of us don’t think we have beautiful handwriting. However, a great pen can elevate anyone’s writing.
  • Stamps. Pick up a roll of stamps, nothing kills the vibe of a hand-written note if it’s been metered.
  • Visibility. Keeping your stationery and pen on top of your desk can inspire you to jot off a thoughtful note of appreciation, gratitude, or encouragement when it is on the top of your mind. Digging around in your desk drawers will certainly derail you.
  • Mind Set. Hand written notes should be a joy for both you, the writer, and the recipient. Try not to think of writing as an obligation, but as an opportunity to connect with someone you care about. Booking a half an hour on your weekly calendar without distractions and playing music while you write is recommended for letting your feelings flow onto the paper.

All great tips, and pretty simple to incorporate into my weekly schedule. But like so many things that sound easy (daily exercise, clean eating etc.) it can be a challenge. However, if we can more deeply connect with those that mean the most to us and make them feel special, I’m willing to give it a try and hope you will too. Maya Angelou wrote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said and forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

Let the note writing begin.