It would seem to reason that if you show someone gratitude for work they did, more gratitude and thankfulness would be a good thing. It might be, but not always.
An example of this came from a recent post I saw on Reddit (though the image has since been removed). A woman received a very nice handwritten thank you letter from her boss for the hard work she’s put in recently, and it came with a pack of “Extra” gum for her “extra” work.
My thought, as with many of the others, is that the note itself was fantastic and likely received well, but the pack of gum ruined it. Instead of her thinking “they really appreciate my work”, she now thinks “they really appreciate my work $1.29 worth”.
Gifts reduce donations
It’s similar to a study from the Journal of Economic Psychology, as shared on Forbes, where organizations soliciting donations found that things got worse if they gave donors a thank-you gift.
Similar to the gum example above, the gifts changed the nature of the transaction. Instead of $1,000 donation you could be proud of, it becomes “I gave $1,000 and only got this lousy t-shirt?”.
These are the kinds of things that I find particularly fascinating, because my initial thought would be the reverse. I would have absolutely been in favor of sending gifts to donors, but it turns out that likely would be a bad move. I encourage you to read the full article on Forbes to see more about that study, and be cautious when sending gifts along with your encouragement, when the encouragement alone might be the best move.