Emma Russ: Take time to thank the people who helped your career

Fundraisers say thank you all the time, so why don't we say it more to the people who helped us achieve our goals?

Emma Russ
Emma Russ

I recently told my team I was leaving. I have been at the organisation six years, and it was really tough.

One of my fundraisers was taken aback by my news and told me that I was the first person who saw something in them and thanked me for investing in them. It really took me back. It made me smile and it made me so damn proud of how much they had achieved since the first time we met.  

It got me thinking about the first fundraising manager who saw something in me – the first person who gave me that chance to pursue a career I love so much.

So I messaged her to say thank you. I told her about my day, about what somebody in my team had said and how it had made me think of her. I told her that I wouldn't be the person or fundraiser I am today without her belief and input.

A few weeks later I was at a conference and my first line manager’s boss (at the time) approached me to tell me she had been sent a card by my first line manager, inspired by my message, saying thank you for her chance. 

I could see that it meant as much to her as it did when somebody said it to me. It started to feel like a really small pass-the-thank-you-on movement.

I started to think that we, fundraisers, say thank you all the time. We even go to training sessions about how to do it well. But we probably don't say it enough to the people who gave us our breaks, to the people who took a chance on us, supported us, believed in us, to the people who helped make us who we are, the people who enabled us to make a difference to the world.

So I'm asking you all to think back to that person who gave you your break. It might not be your first manager. It might not even be a manager: it might be a colleague or a mentor. It could be two or three people. But there will be somebody in your career who invested in you and helped make you who you are today. 

Message them, send them a card, call them, meet them for coffee. Just get in touch, tell them the difference they made to you and to your career. 

They definitely didn’t do it for the thanks; they did it because they saw that spark and they knew you'd be awesome. But I assure you that the gesture will make their day. And it will inspire you to do the same for somebody else.

Emma Russ is fundraising and communications manager at Galloway’s Society for the Blind

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