As a kid I played Kick the Can until the light of day had disappeared and the streetlights had been burning far longer than my mother would have liked for me to be outside. When it was finally too dark to see, the person who was “it” would yell, “Ollie, Ollie in come free.” That indicated that everyone was now able to come in free.
This morning I realized that there are things I use for free as if it were a game. It’s not like the convenience store wants me to use their restroom facilities or the bookstore is begging me to read the magazine without buying it or the coffee shop can’t live without me occupying a table for a couple of hours. Have I begun to expect that these things be provided to me for free?

Sometimes at our local coffee shop, I am so focused on catching up and getting work started that it doesn’t occur to me to order a beverage or snack.
As I placed a $5 in the tip jar, even though I hadn’t ordered anything, I told the barista that I was glad the new owners purchased the coffee shop and kept it alive. I also said that I appreciated that they allowed me to come into their coffee shop, meet with others and have free Wi-Fi access.
How many times have I met someone in a cafe and not ordered a drink or even thanked the owner for allowing me to use the facilities? It is much too easy to forget to acknowledge the store employees or thank them for their generosity.

I want to be the person who recognizes the kindness of others and not one who assumes that I’m owed a clean restroom at a gas station or a table in a coffee shop.
Think about your donors. Do they feel appreciated or do they feel like you just expect them to give of their time, treasure and talent?

You have a unique opportunity right now after year-end giving to appropriately thank your donors for their support in 2019 before you ask for money again. Let them know the impact that their gift has and that it isn’t free-for-all. For you to continue delivering services to your constituents, it takes money from generous people like them.

This reminds me of this poem that can help those of us who are fundraisers remember why we do what we do:

Give Lavishly, Live Abundantly

The more you give, the more you get;
The more you laugh, the less you fret;
The more you do unselfishly
the more you live abundantly;
The more of everything you share,
the more you’ll always have to spare,
The more you love, the more you’ll find
that life is good and friends are always kind.
For only what you give away
enriches you from day to day.

Helen Steiner Rice (1900-1981)