Love FormulaAhh February. The month where the world around us becomes a pandemonium of pink and red hearts, and the main song going through my head is “Silly Love Songs”. While I’m a hopeless romantic, it frustrates me to no end that American culture has capitalized on the idea that all the love we feel for other members of our species must be condensed into one day a year and punctuated with overpriced roses.

Everywhere I look these days I am being bombarded with advice for love. (Note to self: visiting dating sites = becoming the target of every relationship coach’s marketing funnel.)

However, when I think about it, I think most of us learned the secret love formula back in kindergarten. It’s not a complicated thing. There may be different versions out there, but here’s what works for me:


Feeling ACCEPTED for who you are


Feeling VALUED for what you give

That’s really all there is to it.

In our role as nonprofit matchmakers, our job is to share the components of this formula with everyone who touches our organization, be they donors, participants, staff, or volunteers. So without further ado, I present a small box of ooey gooey ideas and sentiments to show everyone around you how loved they are. You can use them next Wednesday, or any day of the year!

1. Say Thank You!

Who knew that two little words could have such power? One of the untold rules of this power though, is that time is of the essence. Thanking someone for mowing my lawn last summer doesn’t have a lot of oompf behind it, but thanking my snowplow guy for making my driveway passable today has an instant and well understood impact (Thank you Dan!).

Fun fact that not everyone may know – the generally accepted timeframe for getting a thank you to your donor is 48-72 hours. If you can’t get a thank you letter out in that timeframe, then I encourage you to at the very least pick up the phone or send an email with those magic words.

2. Make it Personal

Please don’t overthink this and start hyperventilating at the thought of creating 1,000 handmade valentines by next Wednesday (remember love doesn’t just have to be reserved for Valentine’s Day). You can show your donors (or volunteers or friends) your appreciation in so many ways. Take a five minute break to handwrite a love note “just because,” or put a handwritten sticky note on your next letter. Stuck on what to write? Check out Pamela Grow’s Donor Love Cheatsheet.

3. Notice the Details

With friends you might say “I love that sweater” or “you have really nice eyes.” But how do you notice the details with donors who you’ve never met?

First of all – double check to make sure your donor’s name is spelled correctly (i.e. please don’t spell my name with a “y”). If you want to go deeper, you could make a connection to the town your donor is from. If their donation was in honor of a friend’s birthday, give your own birthday shoutout.

4. Bring Your Words to Life

I know a picture is worth a thousand words, but according to a 2008 study, a video is worth 1.8 million words. And with the ease of creating and sharing video these days, you are in a prime position to document and share your work with those people who made it happen. Even if you don’t have the resources to shoot a professional video, putting a couple dozen pictures to music works wonders. Hey, if people are engrossed in slime videos on YouTube, think of how blown away they’ll be by moving pictures of a program they made possible.

5. It’s What is on the Inside That Counts

Let the ones you love know that it’s for more than just their looks (or the size of their checking accounts). Let them know you value all the beauty in their heads and hearts. Through surveys or conversations, ask them questions that invite them to share their stories and their deepest desires for changing the world. Your supporters will appreciate feeling that their value to your organization goes beyond $$. Regardless of the delivery method, be ready to listen, reflect, and relate. After all, relationships grow through shared experiences.

6. Just Call (or Write, or Email) to Say I Love You

Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, don’t forget to appreciate the people around you who are making it happen. Sharing the end outcomes and causes that inspire your donors to give in the first place will fill them with joy. So highlight the quotes, the heartwarming photos, and the success stories that they made possible. By being the connector between your donors and their passion to make a difference, you make your organization indispensable.

As for me, I just want to let all of you dear readers know how much I value and appreciate you. So many of you have given me feedback on these posts, or have offered me timely and sage advice on different steps of my journey. Each time I get an email or a comment my heart sings. To all of you who have joined me on my journey to help nonprofits grow, I give you not just one day, but a full 365 days of my love and never-ending gratitude.


If any part of this was informative and/or entertaining for you, and you are not already on my mailing list, you can join now on the CONTACT page to receive regular posts on nonprofit development ideas (and brief voyages into my personal life). While you’re there, if you want to dive in further and get help with grant writing or fundraising plans, email me at [email protected]. You can also connect with me on Facebook and LinkedIn.