The most obvious answer is the Internet. Yes, Al Gore's invention certainly has made a hand-written thank you note harder to come by than a silver dollar.
NOTE: Don't write me (unless it's hand-written, of course). I don't think Al invented the Internet -- I just still remember how funny it was when he said it.
Now, the younger people who work with me think I'm crazy -- especially about thank you notes after interviews. I have been told by lots of business professionals (and not all in non-profits, by the way) that a thank you email is plenty of thanks after an interview. They like the speed (I agree that the speediness part of an email is good) and I do understand that young people are just so comfortable with technology now because they have grown up with it.
NOTE: One of my younger co-workers told me the other day that she so enjoys the Time Hop Application because she has been on FaceBook since she was a pre-teen, thus can see big changes in her photos, style, etc. Even though Martha has aged a lot since 2004, I'm just a little older. Funny how that works.
But to me, nothing beats a handwritten thank you note -- for any reason. Yes, I want one after I interview someone for sure, but I also want one if I give you a gift, have you to my house for dinner, or just do you any kind of favor that you appreciate. And when I say I want one for these reasons, I also pledge that you'll get one from me for same. And since I do consider myself someone who writes thank you notes often, here are my best tips for success:
- Thank the person and explain why you liked the meeting, the gift, the favor. A simple "Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today." is a perfectly appropriate first sentence. Add in something else like "I so enjoyed hearing about your road to success in the non-profit world and I know that I will end up using your advice to further my career path." Or for a gift "Damn, I have never seen a more perfect gift for me -- you know that orange is my favorite color -- and I've never seen underwear in that exact shade before!"
- Try to write the note the same day of the meeting or favor, or the next day and then get the damn thing in the mail. I find that if I wait then I forget about it. I have been known to send a second note just because I think maybe I forgot. If you make a hard and fast rule to get the note out lickety-split, then you can rest easy.
- My favorite card to write is a small note card. I love a personalized one (I always get mine at Paper Affair), but I have lots of them without personalization and they are fine too. I like to have my full name on my cards since sometimes I think people might not know exactly who is writing them. I know that sounds funny but it's true. If my full name is there on the card I can still sign it just Paige and they know for sure it's me and not some other Paige. You would be surprised at how many Paiges can be invited to a huge holiday or charity event in Dallas. If I'm going to the trouble to write I want credit for it, people!
To me a thank you note means more than a silver dollar. LOTS more.
P.S. I wanted to report back that I have received a whole bunch of dolls for the Community Partners of Dallas' Toy Drive. Many thanks to those of you who have sent them! Here's a pic:
And yes, I have already mailed their hand-written thank yous -- who do you think you're dealing with?