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The art of acknowledgment from a Mom/Fundraising Consultant

Updated: Aug 31, 2023

Fundraising Consultant

Long ago, when I was a young mom, I read an article in some parenting newsletter about how to compliment your child, how to give meaningful praise to your kids to lift them and make them feel truly powerful.

The theory focused on a picture drawn with a limited number of Crayola crayons brought home to display on a bulletin board or refrigerator.

Mom #1 (most of us) -That picture is beautiful.

Mom #2 - That picture is beautiful. I especially like the way you used the red crayon to draw that flower in the corner of the picture.

Mom #1 truly loved her daughter’s picture, but her compliment is shallow.

Mom #2 was specific and called out what she liked best about the picture. This allowed her daughter to understand that this was an authentic compliment.

I took this article to heart, and it changed how I praised my children and how I praised those who worked with me and for me.

No, Samantha and Cole did not receive any participation trophies in this house; however, they received specific and generous praise when they did a great job. When they worked on something complicated…let’s say a physics exam, the compliment would highlight their effort to get a good grade, not the grade.

And by the way, my kids are 21 and 24, and I think they are amazing because they are good people. To be more specific, they are young adults who care about the world around them; they are smart and funny and still like spending time with their parents!

Now, how do you transfer this into an acknowledgment of your teams?

  • Be on the lookout for your team doing something right.

Many managers seem to find people doing something they feel is wrong and often have no trouble sharing that with the employee. Try looking for you people doing something right and acknowledge that.

  • Be specific in your praise.

I once knew a manager who would say “AMAZING” about everything you did correctly or very well or even super very well. Soon it became meaningless and sort of a joke. Be specific, so your praise is heard.

  • Praise your people in the way they like to be acknowledged

There is an old saying, praise in public, correct in private. I prefer both in private. Ask your employees what they desire, and do what makes them feel great!

  • Make rewards personal

The best acknowledgment I ever heard was that of a manager who surprised her employee (who had exceeded a very large goal) with piano lessons…while that may not be a good reward for you, it was to her as since she was a child, she had wanted to learn to play the piano.

  • Be authentic

Don’t say you like the red flower unless you do. Be specific, so they know that is a behavior you would like to see repeated.

Praise vs. Feedback

The process of offering praise to your employees regularly and the standard feedback process are two entirely different things.

Giving praise should be much more casual, while feedback and employee evaluations need to be more formal.

Basically, one is about acknowledging a behavior, and one is about improving behaviors.

An unexpected benefit of authentic praise

Like money in the bank, each time you compliment an employee, you score a point that will allow you to give specific and real coaching at a different time.

I hope you have found this post valuable, as I think it is such an important post during GreatResignation.

Train, coach or hire someone who can- (Team Kat & Mouse Nonprofit Consultants)

Then praise those who grow, learn and succeed

Team Kat & Mouse is dedicated to training and coaching your team to successful fundraising.

Reach out today


Sharon kitroser - Team Kat & Mouse

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