It's the Little Things

My sister bought me a laptop for my birthday.  Because it is so much smaller than my older laptop, I needed a new carrying case.  “Waterfield Designs,”  said my husband.  “Don’t even look anywhere else” I hate to shop, so that sounded good to me, but my husband is a chronic comparison shopper.  Being that sure before we (okay, he) looked around, surprised me. But, “Trust me,” he told me.  “you, especially, will be happy with the way they do business.”

So I went online and ordered a case.  And you know, my husband was right.  Almost immediately—even before I got the case—Waterfield Designs pleased me.

First I got a order confirmation.  OK, not so special—most (but not all) online stores send those out.  But then, a day or so later, I got an email entitled “On the way…” And after telling me that my order was being shipped and giving me all the information I would need to track it, the email went on to say:

Thanks for tracking us down. We appreciate it. I hope we meet your expectations.

If there's anything else I can do for you, just let me know.

Best regards,


Like he was a friend, not the company founder.  Like he really cared that I ordered from him.  Best of all, there was an real email address—not one that said, “no-reply @...”

And sure, it wasn’t a big thing, but it made me feel that I was getting something from someone who cared about quality and cared about his customers.

A few days later, I got the case.  I really like it.  And I really liked that on the packing slip there was a hand-written note:  “Thanks once again, Janet.  Best regards, Gary.”

Now, for all I know, there are 12 people sitting at desks, writing little notes and signing them all “Gary.”  Maybe Gary isn’t even real.  But it sure feels real and it beats the anonymity I feel from most of my (admittedly meager) shopping forays.

And when my neighbor got her new laptop, I told her  she should get her case from Waterfield Designs.

So why is a blog about fundraising talking about computer bags (or someone in LA even saying nice things about a San Francisco company)?  The whole point of my telling you this story is to remind you how it really is the little things that count.  Those extra touches that cost you little (if at all) but make your donors and your volunteers feel like you care that they are there.

When, for example, was the last time you thanked a Board member for serving on the Board?  Not because she brought in a big donor, or hosted a party, or sold three tables to your gala.  Just thanks because?

Or called a donor to tell him about something that happened at your organization that you think he might care about?  When, in fact, was the last time you appreciated (synonyms include valued, cherished, prized) your donor rather than simply thanking (acknowledging, recognizing) them?

It doesn’t have to be a big thing.  In fact, it’s the smaller touches that often make the difference.

But when I got my carrying case with my personal thank you from Gary, it made me smile.  And that smile made me want to do more business with him.  And that is what you want your donors to feel.  As if making a contribution to you enhances not just your organization but their entire day.


Janet Levine works with nonprofit organizations, helping them to build their resource development capacity.  To learn more about her, her online grantwriting class and Get Ready, Get Set, Get Grants the only grantwriting book you really need, check out  You can buy the book directly at