By Molly Fast
I’ve been a letter writer for a really long time. My mother encouraged (read: forced) my sisters and I from a very young age to write thank you letters after birthdays and holidays. I’ve been writing in a journal since the first day of my senior year of high school (those are frightening things to read back upon). And I’ve been a consistent letter writer for years with an enviable stationery collection to support my habit. In this day and age where we’re connected intensely to all of our devices and screens, using a bit of time to get offline and put pen to paper is oftentimes my favorite part of any day. Part of it is a break from routine, but a larger part of it is knowing that I’m taking part in something that’s now considered to be “a lost art.” (There’s even a TED Talk dedicated to it!) Writing not only makes me happy, but it makes the recipient happy as well. While this is something that I’ve taken to doing regularly in my personal life, it’s something that I’ve encouraged those I work with to incorporate into their professional life. And we’ve seen really encouraging results. We identified a handful of audiences that should get a handwritten note. This includes:
1) Top fundraisers
2) Training walk leaders
3) Key volunteers
4) Participants celebrating a milestone (for example, people who are doing their 10th event)
To make this easier for our team, we got some custom stationery made using photos from the event knowing that if the recipient so chose, they could even frame the photo card they received. We’ve made writing and sending letters regular practice throughout the event season. While it can be a time-consuming process, the team recognizes that it can – and does – go a very long way for people on the receiving end.
In our highly digital age, where most people communicate via email, text and phone conversations, it’s truly a surprise to receive something in the mail. If you’re trying to make someone special feel special, I’d encourage you to incorporate a handwritten note into your participant communication strategy. You will delight your participants and stand out in a truly exceptional way.
Letters build relationships and help remind people that you are there, you recognize them and you honor the contribution they make to your organization’s community. Letter writing is an inexpensive way to strengthen relationships in a personal way that will stand out. Even better – the recipient can treasure your note and revisit it over time.
Here are a few of the comments we’ve gotten from participants who have received a handwritten note from us:
- Thank you again for all of the support. I have been very impressed with you and the attention that is paid to us walkers!! It makes me feel very special and that is wonderful! I cannot wait to meet you!!
- A handwritten card – wow! In an age where digital is the most popular and convenient way to correspond, it’s refreshing to get a note in the mail. Thank you!
- Thank you for the card, I really didn’t expect that.
- I got your card! Thank you for taking the time to send that.
- Wow, I didn’t think many people used snail mail anymore so I was beyond delighted to get your card.
- I don’t usually send thank you notes after receiving a thank you card, but really wanted to today after getting your card yesterday! What a really nice touch, and a very touching card! It meant a lot to me to get it, so “thank you for the thank you!” I loved the picture on the front, and can’t wait to do that part of the walk again this year – even if it means we are getting close to Torrey Pines hill!
- I received a handwritten note from you in the mail today all the way from CA to CR. I was totally touched, with tears even. In this day of technology, emails (like this) or texts seem the way of communication. Never have I, nor any of my team members over the years, and at one point we numbered over 100, received such a simple yet personal note. It was a very thoughtful move on your part. It was deeply felt on my part.
If you and your staff aren’t doing this on a regular basis, I highly encourage you to build this into your workload ASAP! Go out and get some fun stationery (or get some custom made with your own event images), have some stamps handy in your office and set aside an appointment on your calendar once a week to dedicate to this task.
Molly Fast co-leads the company’s local operations for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day series and is privileged to work with Event 360’s participant-facing team. For over a decade, Molly has been fortunate enough to combine her love of people with the ability to make a difference in the work she does focusing on exceeding expectations and delighting participants along the way. When not roaming around Ireland, Molly can be found taking photos or talking to strangers in Santa Monica where she lives with her husband and their black lab, Clancy. You can find Molly on Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn and her favorite social media tool, Instagram.