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Voice of Experience

Voice of Experience: November 2023 | Thanksgiving

Doing Well by Doing Gratitude

Stanley Peter Jaskiewicz

Doing Well by Doing Gratitude View Productions

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I had the privilege of serving on the board of a local food pantry for 9 years (the maximum under the bylaws).

Our goal was simple: “That all might be fed.”

(I still serve on its fundraising committee.)

That service taught me many tremendous life lessons:

I worked and volunteered closely with people from economic and cultural backgrounds very different from my own.  I was even invited to an Islamic colleague’s home for a traditional meal.

I saw the depths of poverty of the working poor, even in my own overtly prosperous suburb.

I learned the meaning of “food insecurity” by speaking with people who lived with it.  I had never experienced that terror in my own life.

My board service also reinforced another life lesson: the power of saying “thank you.”

Each fall, the pantry’s board members personally called virtually every donor.

We always made clear, at the start of each call, that we were not soliciting funds, or food donations.

What I loved about those calls, however, were the reactions. 

Although many tried to politely end the call, or change the subject when I identified myself as a pantry board member, I immediately made clear that I was not calling to ask for money.

Instead, I was calling simply to say, “Thank you.”

Although everyone appreciated the call, many did not know what to say.

Of course, I was glad to speak at length about our initiatives and accomplishments to anyone who wanted to hear more.

(After all, we were calling those who had already donated to support our mission.)

Certainly, it was heart-warming to hear compliments for the nonprofit’s work.

Even better were “success stories” – former pantry food recipients who had become financial donors.

But the real proof of “the power of thank you” came in the year-end financial reports to the board, with the results of the annual appeal.

Without exception, we saw a distinct donation boost after the phone campaign, even considering Americans’ tendency to increase charitable giving at the end of each year. (see here)

So, to all of you who plan to support a nonprofit of your choice this year, I say, “Thank you.”

(Coincidentally, my hometown recently saw another example of the power of “thank you,” when a local professional athlete’s lackluster season was revived when the fans thanked him for his effort.)  See here: