It isn’t often that I come across a children’s book that carries the perfect message for grant writers and fundraisers alike. We are always talking about getting to know our donors, building relationships with them, and finding the right ways to acknowledge their generosity, and Miss Fannie’s Hat covers it all in a heartfelt and tender way.
In Miss Fannie’s Hat, author Jan Karon recounts the story of her grandmother, Fannie, who lived to be one hundred years old. A beloved member of her church congregation, she became well known for her fanciful hats. Each Sunday, she would attend church wearing one, and she’d never wear the same hat two Sundays in a row.
A young pastor kindly asks Miss Fannie if she will donate one of her hats as part of an auction to help raise money to repair the church in time for Easter morning. As she makes the difficult decision about which hat to donate, Miss Fannie recalls the memories associated with each one, memories those outside her family may never know or appreciate.
The hat she chooses to donate turns out to be the one she’s worn to church every Easter for more than twenty years, so when it comes time to get ready for church on Easter morning, she finds herself at a loss for which hat to select. For the first time in as long as her daughter can remember, Miss Fannie attends church with no hat at all, choosing to reveal instead her “hair as soft as the feathers of a dove”.
Upon arriving at church, Miss Frannie and her daughter are delighted to find not only that the church bell and organ are repaired but that the church is surrounded by gardens filled with pink roses, roses reminiscent of the hat Miss Fannie so loved. “Now, when people pass the little white church, they think they’re seeing a garden of dazzling pink roses. But what they’re really seeing is Miss Fannie’s hat. And it will always, always be her favorite.”
Can you imagine a more fitting way to acknowledge the great gifts of our congregation and demonstrate appreciation for the sacrifice given?
I give this book my highest recommendation and hope that you will use this story to help your volunteers, board members, and staff understand the deep emotion that comes with cultivating each great gift.
Miss Fannie’s Hat is available for purchase at amazon.com.