April 27, 2018

This New York nonprofit has found a surprising way to say thanks

Every week we share three stories of innovation and ingenuity across America

The Jacob Burns Film Center in New York is changing how it thanks its supporters. Photo courtesy of Jacob Burns Film Center

Every Friday, The Renewal Project shares three stories from around the country that highlight the innovative solutions individuals and organizations are creating in their communities. Want to share a story from your hometown? Email us at info@therenewalproject.com.

A recipe for gratitude: The Jacob Burns Film Center, a nonprofit cinema with five screens and an education center in Pleasantville, New York, relies like so many other community organizations on the generosity of its supporters to stay in business. Aside from providing reliable and engaging services to its community, what can a local nonprofit do to express gratitude for the support it receives? The Film Center, bored of the traditional thank you note, took a different route: an 18-page PDF cookbook with favorite recipes of employees and supporters. “We’re always looking for new ways to go the extra mile as a thank you for our supporters and demonstrate our appreciation,” said Denise Treco, the director of marketing and communications for the cinema, in Forbes. Local nonprofits should push themselves to thank their supporters in creative, inexpensive, and unexpected ways, says Dan Gingiss, a customer experience expert, in Forbes. Your gift should align with the mission of your organization—in this case, a cookbook, like cinema, brings families together—but surprise your supporters with a bit of a delightful twist by providing value outside of your core competency.

Helping to heal in hard times: While so many community nonprofits help convene moments of joy, equally important are those that help us in life’s most tragic moments. That’s what No Foot Too Small​ does. Founded in 2014 by an Iowa City couple, the organization became a nonprofit earlier this year and helps families cope with the loss of a fetal or infant death. “There’s a lot of shame, there’s a lot of guilt,”​ Robin Boudreau, the organization’s co-founder, told​ the Iowa City Gazette. “Unless you’re affected by it or you’re really close to somebody who’s affected by it, you don’t look for it.” ​The newly minted nonprofit already has ambitious plans to further its impact in the community. No Foot Too Small recently signed with the ​University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics to build a custom bereavement suite for families grieving the loss of a newly delivered infant. The suite, which will provide custom services to families who lose an infant, does not yet have a confirmed completion date.

The nonprofit connection: Nonprofits and charities working with hospitals had another win this week, when California’s attorney general ordered three hospitals to pay large sums to local nonprofits after those hospitals requested to be freed of their state-mandated charity obligations. The three California hospitals took the position that funding charity care was less important now that more people have health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. But consumer advocates and nonprofit leaders claim that even with insurance, large swaths of Californians need extra assistance paying hefty hospital bills. The attorney general’s decision is an important step to validating the relationship between charity organizations and the state’s health care infrastructure. “We were thrilled,” said Jen Flory, a health care policy advocate for low-income Californians, about the attorney general’s decision.

Gabriel Muller

Gabriel Muller is a contributor to The Renewal Project.