My friend Larry Webb, business owner and philanthropist, has been a big supporter of the Leelanau Conservancy in Northern Michigan. Larry is one of those donors who does not find naming opportunities important to his giving. In fact, when he was asked about a naming opportunity for this project, jokingly answered, “Just put my name on a tree.”

Led by Tom Nelson, the Conservancy has done an amazing job of preserving the natural character of Leelanau County. Of course, raising funds is a key to their success but I would venture to say that what they really do well is say thank you.

Last winter I had a chance to see this up-close.

As we had for the past several years, Larry, Tom and I had a day of cross-country skiing together on Conservancy property. Tom led us to a secluded spot along the road where there was a beautifully groomed trail leading into the woods.

We skied down this wonderful trail and eventually came to a spot where Tom stopped and stood with a smile on his face. As Larry and I caught up, we soon noticed that this trail was set up just for us – or more specifically, for Larry.

There on a tree, deep in the woods, was a beautifully framed signed that said simply, “Larry’s Tree.”

Peters Thank you Tree 2

There are many ways to say thank you, but it seems that listening to the donor and making an effort to personalize, and even surprise, can be the most meaningful. (Even if takes grooming a trail.)

What about you? When have you recognized a donor in a way that was seemed simple but was deeply special to them?

Join us: We recently launched the Year of Thanks. It's an online and interactive community of non-profit professionals across the country who are committed to being the best at saying thanks. Sign up to share your great ideas and get inspired by others.

Posted by Thom Peters
Thom Peters

Written by Thom Peters

A fascination with people and service has been the essential driving force behind Thom’s work with local and national non-profit organizations. Thom’s career in service began with his first summer as a YMCA camp counselor in college. From there, he went on to build a 30-year career within the not-for-profit arena.

Our Latest Posts