Getting a Chance to Say Thanks!

August 13, 2014

“Thanks” may just be my favorite word. “Please” is a good word too, but “thanks” conveys gratitude, a state of being which makes me feel good! That’s it, plain and simple. I’m pretty selfish, truth be told, and if I can feel good I’ll find a way to “Rinse. Lather. Repeat.” as often as possible.

“Thanks” became a part of my vocabulary, actively, in the early part of the last decade, when I went “high octane” in the nonprofit world. I was “fetched up proper” by my parents, so I knew about please and thank you, and I used them appropriately. No problems, but “meh” when it came to conveying gratitude. More like “going through the motions plus,” most of the time.

When I really got going in my former life, I started asking people for money. Now, many among us have a real aversion to fundraising, which many now call fund development. “Ask me to do anything,” lots of people will say, “but don’t expect me to ask people for money.” Well, experts tell us fund development encompasses much more than actually asking someone for money. (My favorite person in this realm is Kay Sprinkel Grace, consultant, author, and speaker, who formulated The AAA Way to Fundraising Success:  Maximum Involvement; Maximum Results. And the AAA? Ambassadors, advocates, and askers, a model that finds room for everyone in the fund development effort, including the many who don’t want to ask others for money, and the few—like me—who want more ups!)

So why did I like to ask people for money? First, I believed in the causes. No one can be effective on behalf of an organization if the cause is not important, and dear to the asker’s heart.

Second, I liked being successful, and I was a pretty good fundraiser! Not great, but pretty, pretty, pretty good! (Digression:  I was bemoaning the fact that I’d committed to the spelling bee last Friday night, and was afraid I’d lose/perform poorly. My wise old law partner, who knows me better than he should, asked me why I do it. “Because I like the success if I win,” I responded. “Eh,” he said, “go back to work!”)

Finally, I loved the opportunity to say thanks. Nothing perfunctory or appropriate, but a heartfelt thanks for supporting a cause that matters. I know it made the donor feel good, and we’ve already discussed my selfish desire to convey gratitude.

Now, when I lived in the nonprofit world I used “thanks” often. Sure, there were formal thank you notes and calls to donors. In addition, though, I found myself using “thanks” as a routine closing salutation on emails, almost without regard for what I was writing about. Just my word!

“Thanks” has not left my world during the past six+ months, but it’s present just a bit less. Every few weeks I find myself doing a quick scan of an email before I hit send—recommended, and this recommendation comes from someone who deeply, deeply regrets two emails that should never have been sent, both years ago—and from time to time I ask myself “what happened to thanks?” These are emails to my secretary, other attorneys, clients, etc. Most are emails for which no one will notice the missing word. (Recall that I was fetched up proper, so I still use “thanks” whenever I need to.) Instead, they are situations in which the thanks or thank you will never be missed, but added a little something for the recipient, and an opportunity for selfish old me to feel good. When I catch myself, there’s a quick edit and we all share in the positive emotions. And when I look at an email without the word, after it was sent, I remind myself that our nonprofit sector adds greatly to our society in many ways, and one that rarely gets mentioned is the chance for people to share both their time and treasure, and their open, warm hearts!

In closing, thanks for reading and visiting Mark Rubin Writes. More than you know, I’m in your debt!

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