The Power of a Handwritten Note

Recently I had dinner with a family that serves in my ministry.  As I entered the kitchen, I noticed a handwritten card I had sent several months earlier proudly displayed on the fridge.  Mixed in with award ribbons, artwork and family pictures was my thank you note.

We live in a world full of instant communication.  With little effort we can send an email, text, Facebook message or a tweet.

Common digital methods are essentially free.  They are easy to write, free to send, and they can be duplicated with little effort.  As a result, electronic communication has become nearly unnoticeable.

When was the last time you printed an email or text and displayed it publicly for others to see? Digital communication is easy to ignore.  Phone calls and texts are invasive.

A handwritten note is hard to ignore, almost always opened and never an interruption.

If you’re like me, you receive hundreds of emails each week.  When was the last time you received a handwritten note?  How did it make you feel?  Because of how rare a handwritten note has become, when we receive one we feel valued and appreciated.  We feel special.  It’s a tangible expression of appreciation.

Here’s the process I follow when sending my volunteers hand written notes.

1. I schedule time weekly. 

Every Monday I send at least five hand written notes.  I block out 30 minutes first thing Monday morning and make this a priority.  I know if I don’t do it first thing I am unlikely to do it.

2. I make each note personal. 

I make each note specific.  I love to catch my volunteers doing something right and then I write them and thank them.  I let them know I noticed there effort. I enjoy including an inside joke. Or reference to something that is specific to my relationship to the person I am writing to.

3. I pray for each volunteer and their family as I write the note. 

This is a great opportunity to pray for your team.

4. I like to include a small token.  

When budget allows I like to include a small token or gift card.  It’s a way to say thank you.  Understand it’s not about the gift, it’s about the note.

Bonus Tip: I track who I send a note to and what I said in Evernote.  It helps me keep from becoming repetitive or only showing appreciation to a small group of people.  I try to cover every volunteer at least once in a calendar year.

QUESTION: Who will you take the time to write a note to today?  Leave a comment below.

For more about volunteer appreciation check out this post, “The One Thing That Saved My Ministry”

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About the Author

Andrew VanDerLinden

Andrew is the Executive Pastor at Community Church in Eastern PA.

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