What does it take to be a fundraiser?
I know, I know. There have been hundreds of articles written on this (including this one from us) and hours of conference sessions devoted to it.
But this week's got me thinking differently.
You, my fellow fundraiser - you're crazy special.
I was terrified for the first 3 years of my career (4 if I'm being totally honest).
I fell into my very first fundraising job - believing if I could sell coffee to grumpy morning people, I could surely raise money. (Helpful career hint: it's not the same AT ALL!)
After two years sorting through paper files and "raising" a tiny bit of money as it fell into my lap, I talked my way into a bigger, better job in a bigger, better town.
I felt like a fraud.
Not only at my job, but with donors.
I had no confidence - no roadmap - no clue where to go or what I was supposed to talk about.
I walked into dozens of immaculate homes, corner offices and Starbucks completely terrified - believing I would say something stupid, not know enough, insult them, make them feel uncomfortable.
Until one day, I just wasn't scared anymore.
I don't remember any magic aha moment that truly made me believe I was not a fraud and I could ask people for money and they would trust me enough to say yes.
I'd just done it over and over - talked to hundreds of people, learned more and more about my cause and started to truly believe in what I was saying, how I was saying it and to whom I was saying it.
It only took 4 painful years for me to become a real live fundraiser.
If you can relate, we're here for you.
You are why we started Fundraisers' Monthly - to shortcut your journey to badassery. To give you the confidence to talk to anyone, the courage to ask tough questions with a generous heart and the connection to people who've been where you are.
We're here for you because you're a fundraiser.
You make cold calls. You meet strangers in strange places. You stomach awkward silences. You ask hard questions.
You'll relate to Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by University of Houston professor and social scientist, Brene Brown. Brown says, "True belonging doesn't require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are." This is so true in fundraising. You don't have to convince, pretend or fit in. "Be vulnerable, get uncomfortable, and learn how to be with people without sacrificing who you are." If you haven't seen Brene Brown's Ted Talk on vulnerability, watch it and be inspired.
You make face-to-face connections with other humans. You ask hard questions. You seek inspiration. You geek out on learning.
You'll be blown away by Episode 3 of the Netflix series Chef's Table featuring renowned chef, Francis Mallmann. He lives 100 miles down a dirt road & an hour across a lake on a lush, primitive island in Patagonia. He cooks in wild, remote places, in fresh air over an open fire. He chars oranges, blisters flatbread, roasts racks of lamb on spits. He hires young apprentices who have never cooked anywhere - teaches them - then sets them free to teach a new generation.
Mallmann went to Paris at 19 and worked in 3-star French restaurants. For years, he cooked French food in Argentina, until he realized he was copying everything he'd learned, rather than finding his own voice. At 40, he changed everything, went back to his roots and became the most successful chef in the Latin world. For 30 years, he's been on a plane 4 days a week - traveling the world, meeting new people, "living". He finds romance in new places, new people and uncertainty. At the end of the episode, he reads these lines from a poem by Robert W. Service, which have stuck in my head ever since:
There's a whisper on the night wind.There's a star agleam to guide us.And the Wild is calling, calling...let us go.
You stand for something.
You could be successful anywhere, but you chose a nonprofit. You chose meaning, connection & generosity. You raise money to change the world.
You'll love Purposeful by former president of Change.org and Facebook's head of Groups and Community, Jennifer Dulski. This book is full of inspiring stories of movement-starters, tips to create your own movement from wherever you are and leadership how-to's to build purposeful teams. If you need a reminder of why you do what you do, this book is it.
Thank you for raising money.
Thank you for making change.
Wishing you so much success,
P.S. For a bonus of goosebumpy inspiration, check out this almost 40 year-old, fairly crappy quality video of Stevie Nicks belting out beautiful words: Where is the reason. Don't blame it on me. Blame it on my wild heart. I woke up in the middle of the night still singing this.