Early on, a mentor told me that there will be individuals who have a lot of money … but, they don’t want to give it to you. That’s all right. Share your case for support, tell your “why” story, plant seeds for future giving as they will better celebrate their pride in the organization and understand your rationale for their engagement in the future. And move on to the next donor or prospect. Truly believe in your organization’s purpose and case for support.
- A strong team is vital and taking the time to debrief (both good and bad results) keeps things in perspective
- Remembering that a rejection is not personal — even though the business is highly relational
I have been resilient in a number of ways and could share more stories than I can count but my first story as CEO is the best.
When I started in my role as CEO of the Foundation, I was 27, a female, non-member and pregnant with my oldest daughter. The FarmHouse Foundation Trustees took a huge leap of faith in hiring me. I knew it, they it – that it was a BIG leap. I was young, had a lot to learn, would be a woman leading a men’s fraternity foundation (a first and only) and about to have a baby – who’s now a 7th-grader. While the Trustees, our staff and alumni knew of this leap – they didn’t sit back to watch – they helped me and the Foundation grow. Because we all knew – it’s not about me at all – it’s about making FarmHouse more successful. It is a big responsibility in the role as a fundraiser and CEO, but they keep me going and give me and our team the confidence to do it.
Furthermore, when others in fundraising have rudely said, “You must be good at your job because you’re a ‘pretty girl’,” it’s made me tougher, want to work harder and be more successful to prove them wrong over and over again because I’m good at my job for thousands of reasons, in addition to being a pretty woman with confidence and integrity.
Two areas: The wonderful and strong donor support that asks how can I help and then seeing need, and value of the experience by the undergraduate students.
I think that my belief in myself kept me going … when people kept saying “You can’t raise that kind of money” or “No way can you raise unrestricted dollars,” I just put my head down and proved them to be incorrect. It was particularly hard when I was raising money for women’s groups because they didn’t have faith. I had to fully develop them to get on point and that would always take longer than it should have. It taught me patience and empathy!
Each and every day we face difficulties as fundraisers — whether they be revenue challenges or organizational/operational struggles. My resiliency comes from understanding what is within my control, leaning into difficult situations and sometimes stepping back to garner perspective. Simply put is the stories of how the Fraternity and the Foundation’s assistance have and continue to change the lives of our young men. Witnessing the gap between what some of our undergraduates experience at home and what education they receive in the classroom drives me to accomplish our mission.
Physically take care of yourself:
- Get outside and walk.
- Call someone who fills your bucket. (my favorite oldest and youngest daughters.)
- Evaluate your sleep schedule.
Identify the most important thing the organization needs now: make a plan and start there. Not everything is going to get done. When I get really stuck and overwhelmed, I just “do something.” On that day it doesn’t matter that it’s the big thing. I find when I do something it helps me unblock and find my rhythm again. Let others know what you and/or the organization need. Let others do their good work. Our work is large in scope and, at times, complex. It takes a village so let the people you’ve hired/recruited do their work. My #1 strength is responsibility — the best and worst of me. So it’s not possible to quit or stop.
In a very short time, life has changed for all of us. There have many significant challenges. Some have already become a reality but there are many we cannot yet see. Fundraising is at its hardest since the magic of meeting one on one with a donor is now a bit different through a scheduled Zoom call. The one thing that has not changed, is the strength of our sisterhood, which knows no bounds. We are stronger because we are pushed, lifting each other up to support our mission and purpose.
The notes, emails and phone calls that come in from donors and leaders with the messages of how they are thrilled that they have changed a life with a scholarship or crisis grant; or as a Foundation we learn that a visually impaired child has been given an opportunity to become independent because of a service for sight grant, totally re-energizes me and clearly reaffirms why I do what I do.
The Mission, the impact ZBT had/has on me, the relationships, the legacy, fighting for what I believe, the possibilities and the opportunities.