Trust Me: Give Thanks
I have ready many, many articles and books about obtaining scholarships from various sources, but have seen far less said about the proper follow up to won funds. Recently I dove into two scholarship-specific books, one a 400 page masterpiece on the subject which had nothing to say about today’s topic. So hear it from me. To win funds without explicitly and profusely offering thanks in return is to pass up a great opportunity.
Trust me: When you do win a coveted scholarship or receive gifts respond with a well-written, hand-written thank you and at least one follow up note. In fact, go the extra mile and put a to-do on your calendar to write your benefactors again each semester or so. Send along pictures and a synopsis of what you’re getting from your experience, all with an expression of gratitude.
Trust me, this is good practice. But why?
Do this rarest of actions for two reasons:
- Because it’s the right thing to do. Those are someone else’s hard earned dollars you’re now working with, so be legitimately grateful for the generosity.
- Because it keeps the door open with people who have already proven themselves generous. You cannot overestimate the impact of a thank-you campaign these days, particularly among those who consider millennials at large entitlement-minded ingrates. Even the simplest of thank you notes will make you stand out and you never know where this will lead.
Understand this: scholarships are given by organizations, but ultimately organizations are composed of people. People, apparently, who are passionate enough about education to give away their money to what they see as a good cause: you and your college pursuits. Prove them right and you may be surprised by the results. This may lead to friendships, connections, and even in many cases, more money. You see, while official organizational scholarships might come but once, you never know where good impressions will lead unofficially with the people behind the organization.
I can speak from experience on this front. I’ve been in the habit of stating gratitude in letter form since my childhood thanks to the influence of my grandfather. I cannot tell you how many times this has led to some wonderful things. Two quick stories for you:
- To be perfectly honest, I didn’t do so hot on the scholarship front largely due to lack of effort. But I had a couple come my way and to each of these organizations I wrote not only an initial thank-you note but also notes after the fact of the sort I’m recommending. One local scholarship organization would receive these letters and read them in their committee meetings. On more than one occasion either the committee itself or one of its members would send me a check, completely out of the blue and outside of the traditional scholarship process.
- Recently I attended a coaching clinic held at a local university and taught by several high profile college and professional basketball coaches. Three of the presentations were particularly helpful to my fledgling coaching career, and I took the time to write notes saying so. Imagine my surprise when I got a random phone call from one of the recipients one Saturday. “Hey, thanks for the note. You didn’t have to do that. I mean, who does that these days? Man, that made my day.” Not only did the coach appreciate the note, make the effort to hunt down my number, and call me, he also gave me tickets to a game between his team and a local college.
There you have it. Make it a standard practice write thank you notes to those who have blessed you. You have nothing to lose and everyone gains from it.