Fun and meaningful gifts leave a powerful impression in a giver’s heart.

A few weeks ago I got this text from one of our Ministry Ventures board members:

Do you know how valuable this text is? If you lead a faith-based nonprofit ministry then you get it. Priceless.

I want more of your texts to be unsolicited gratitude from your givers. But the reality is we must be intentional and creative to make it through the noise and busyness that surrounds life.

Here’s the story of how this text came about.

March was coming to a close as I prepared a small gift to send to our board members. A book titled The Seven Money Types by Tommy Brown would provide good summer reading along with a hand-written note.

As I distractedly waited in line at the UPS store I noticed some large tubes on clearance in the corner.

Something fun awaited these cardboard cylinders I just knew it. At $.99 cents each, I was sure the investment was worth the risk. So I bought all six of them and shoved them in the trunk.

April showers came and went. May arrived in all its sunny splendor. The month of May not only offers great sunshine but it holds a few board member birthdays. How did I know this?

A few months prior I had gathered all the board member birth dates and added them to the Ministry Ventures office calendar. This way our entire team would be reminded of these special days in advance.

This step was a huge part of the process. We had a system in place to remind us of what we should be doing.

Being reminded of the board member’s birthday I then remembered the cardboard cylinders sitting in my trunk waiting for their mission to unfold.

I began musing about how we could unexpectedly ‘wow’ this particular board member on his birthday. A stop at Dollar Tree began to stoke the flames.

I knew this board member had a family and I also knew summertime was about to officially begin for his kids. As I walked the fun-filled aisles in the toy section I turned into a kid again.

I eventually loaded up the conveyer belt with a little over $20 worth of goodies to stuff in the tube.

Candy, fireworks, water guns, beach balls, glow sticks, water balloons…it was all there. I stuffed the tube to capacity with these fun goodies and somehow slipped a card in to top it off. Who wouldn’t be thrilled to get this in the mail!?

The final step involved fun phrases and artwork penned on the outside of the tube. Here’s the finished product:


I labeled it the ‘Getting Older Tube-O’-Joy’ and added a warning about the fun it contained inside. Ten dollars later the good folks at the UPS store sent it on its way.

It was Wednesday. The package would arrive by Friday and be like a ticking time bomb of fun waiting to explode on Sunday.

It was around three o’clock in the afternoon on Sunday when I got the text.

I can only imagine their family shooting silly string at dad and soaking him with water balloons as they celebrated his birthday that Sunday afternoon.


Mission accomplished.

Now that you know the story behind the text, here are three ideas to help you create fun ways to thank your givers.

1. Time your gifts around dates that lend themselves to appreciation and fun.

Birthdays, anniversaries, and seasonal celebrations are great times to show the love. But you can also show appreciation out of the blue and harness the element of surprise.

2. Visit places that provide fodder for inspiration.

Dollar General, card stores, Hobby Lobby, and clearance sections are great places to look for appreciation ideas. Anywhere you can be inspired to show appreciation is worth a visit.

Finally, this is the most important idea. Don’t miss it…

3. Put a system in place to help remind you of what you should do and what you’ve already done.

Without a system to help remind you forgetfulness will take over. Things will start slipping through the cracks and then you may decide to give up altogether. This doesn’t have to happen to you.

One simple system I used was getting all the board member birthdays on our office calendar. I set up reminders a few weeks in advance to REMIND ME. I need to be reminded about the important stuff.

Another great reminder system could be setting up tasks and alerts through a donor management system such as Salesforce. (That’s what we use.)

This also allows you to record what you’ve already done in the past to make sure you don’t send the same gift twice. Here’s a sample of what I see when I look at the history for the board member who we sent the Tube-O’-Joy birthday gift to:


If you want help exploring how to get a donor management system like Salesforce set up for your ministry let us know. We love helping ministries implement systems that make a difference.

It doesn’t have to be expensive to appreciate your givers. With a little creativity and a few systems in place, you’ll be getting an awesome text like we did. Have fun and go for it!

Joshua Randolph is Director of Membership for MV Next and loves creating fun ways to appreciate givers.

This content was originally shared with MV Next Members in the Office Hours monthly forum. To download his presentation click here.