Business Stories

Gratitude Certificates Giving an Extra Edge

James HellyerJames Hellyer was working late in his office in England one evening, and as he worked away, he was listening to an interview with B1G1 Chairman, Paul Dunn. The interview had been sent out on CD by The Accountants Club.

Paul spoke about how moved he was when he was e-mailed a gratitude certificate by a firm of accountants he’d helped,” James told us, “The accountants had paid for a cataract operation for someone in need. Paul’s reaction moved me too, so I thought I’d give it a go.”

James heads up Accountancy Edge, a firm of chartered accountants in Bideford, North Devon.


Accountancy Edge is now a B1G1 Lifetime Partner. And Gratitude Certificates form a vital part of how James ‘does’ B1G1.

He explains,

“We send out a B1G1 Certificate of Gratitude with every set of bound accounts (yes, people still want them), or each time an approved tax return comes in. Each certificate had different ‘acts of giving’ listed on them.”

“Now, a lot of clients knew I’d been doing things with B1G1. They’d seen updates on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn. The response had been positive, but nothing that screamed ‘enthusiasm’.”


The certificates went out in the Post the next morning. No mention was made of them in the letters that accompanied them. But the next day things started happening. James noticed a lot more ‘social traffic’ from his clients. He received comments on his business and personal Facebook page, e-mails and even a telephone call. His clients were saying things like:

Accountancy Edge Gratitude Certificate

It was a lovely surprise – we didn’t expect it.”

Nobody has sent us anything like that before…

They are great. I’ve got them up in pride of place in the office, on display for all to see.”


James smiles as he remembers that busy week.

“Realistically, some people probably ‘filed’ them in the bin. For others, receiving the B1G1 Gratitude Certificate made their day. And in one case, it even turned their front office into an advertising billboard for my business! Their own customers asked about the Certificates to find out just who they came from, and why. Imagine that!”

“And I think this little act has given me a stronger and deeper relationship with the clients it resonated with. That connection is just invaluable.”

The Gratitude Certificates story comes from the heart; you can feel James’ pride when he tells the story. So we asked him why he became a part of B1G1 in the first place. His reaction was right to the point and succinct:

“I believe that as successful business owners we have a responsibility to help those less fortunate than ourselves, to try and build an inclusive society. Giving a large, and I mean one of those physically large made-up cheques to a local charity, doesn’t do that. It’s a ‘one off’. It’s gimmicky. I’ve never liked it.”

accountancyedge_story5“When my firm signed the commitments as members of Accountants Changing the World, we undertook to help and empower those less fortunate than us. It’s clear that when the group’s founder Steve Pipe drew this up, he was thinking about B1G1. But it didn’t really click for me until I listened to that interview with Paul Dunn. He talked about how important it was to articulate why you do what you do. It gives you ‘connection’. Not only between the activities you do and the outcomes you want, but with people who share the same values as you, and want to do business with you.”

“B1G1 offered a great way to articulate what we believe in as a business, to then link that to everything we do, connect with our clients and prospective clients, and build a better world.”

James Hellyer typifies the passion B1G1 brings out in people. And his use of B1G1 Gratitude Certificates is a great way to share that passion, and leverage the giving even more.

About Ted Schellenberg

Ted is a truly warm-hearted journalist caring most about all the great stories from the B1G1 Partners. His stories always get to heart of what B1G1 is about — ‘ordinary’ businesses doing extraordinary things and making a real difference in the process.

B1G1 Business For Good
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