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The ROI of Gratefulness

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It's trite but true: what goes around comes around. Think about it as business karma. If you make it a practice to genuinely thank those who deserve your thanks, they will appreciate your expression of gratitude and will be far more willing to help you out when you need their assistance.

Donors Choose and the ROI of Gratitude

Charles Best is the founder and CEO of Donors Choose, an online non-profit organization that makes it easy for donors to give to classrooms in need. Donors literally choose classroom projects they want to fund and donate to make those projects come alive.

Charles shared with me a study he conducted to demonstrate the ROI of gratitude. In this experiment, the Donors Choose staff sent hand-written thank you notes to half of their recent first-time donors. The other half received no thank you notes. The results showed a direct correlation between being thanked and the likelihood of giving again. In fact, those who who personally thanked were 38 percent more likely to give another donation, proving an actual return on investment in gratitude.

Thank You Notes, NOT Emails, Make a Difference

Though I thought I had been practicing gratitude in our business by constantly thanking staff and customers via email, an email "thank you" is just not that special these days. Emails are super easy to write and send, and while some people may appreciate receiving them, others may actually resent you for further cluttering their inbox. I learned from my friend Cary Chessick to write personalized thank-you notes. For several years now, Cary has begun each day by listing five people in his business and life he's thankful for, and then reaching out to thank them. I started slower than that, to better ensure sure I'd deliver against my goal.

I began by writing three personalized thank-you notes each Wednesday and then increased to three thank-you notes each weekday. I also asked our management team to do the same, one day each week. The experiment proved powerful, very quickly. Some recipients of our thank-you notes were moved to tears, some just to nice tweets. But everyone appreciated the extra time it took to handwrite a thank-you card, seal it, and deliver or send it. In an increasingly digital world, there's something magical about receiving a handwritten note.

My hope and expectation is that thank-you cards will help build loyalty and pride both amongst our team and with our customers. But no matter what, it feels darn good to write them and send them.

Be Thankful

Gratitude isn't as big a part of business as it should be. Just as you thank someone for lending a hand or giving you a special gift, make sure to thank those in your life who have contributed to your business success. That good deed will come back to you tenfold. The amazing thing about gratefulness and unselfishness is this: whether or not there's an immediate return on investment in business value, there's always an immediate result in your happiness. You can be sure that a happier you is a more productive you.