A Fundraiser’s Journey – Worth It

A Fundraiser’s Journey – Kelly Updike for PCNRC

 What does a 2004 movie entitled The Girl Next Door have to do with fundraising?

While the movie did not do well at the box office, it did generate a notable and usable quote.

I learned about it while having coffee with Ashley Stoneburner, director of advancement and events for the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. When I asked her for some fundraising advice to share, she immediately replied:

“Is the juice worth the squeeze?”

These words of advice were often said to Ashley by her former boss at the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Ashley says she recalls this phrase whenever she starts up a new task or is embroiled in a particularly difficult situation.

So, two things to take away:

  1. Take the long view and decide if the reward is worth the punishment.
  2. Brilliant advice is everywhere.

 

The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Embassy or the PCNRC.

A Fundraiser’s Journey – Get out of your comfort zone

Kelly Updike for PCNRC

As a person who prefers a book to a party, I am drawn to those who exude confidence and poise in public situations.

So it was a surprise to learn from the calm and composed Carolyn Bean, development manager at Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne, that she once suffered from stage fright.

Carolyn, who also has worked at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, regularly has to speak in small groups and to large crowds. But holding a microphone and giving a presentation did not make her happy; Carolyn said she had to overcome some mental fears in order to appreciate this important part of her work.

“I enjoy getting out in front of people now because I realized they’re not judging,” she said.

When we have a natural inclination, such as shyness, or we set up barriers, such as a too-busy work week, it’s easy to avoid public-speaking opportunities. Yet our jobs regularly call on us to step up to the podium and share our passion about our work. Take control of these opportunities when they appear before you, and, as Carolyn said, know you are among friends.

With so much happening in our fair city, Carolyn says it’s easy to get involved. “Don’t be afraid to be part of it,” she encouraged. “You gotta get out there.”

The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Embassy or the PCNRC.

A Fundraiser’s Journey

Kelly Updike

Have you read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey? Although it debuted nearly 30 years ago, it is considered an important book on leadership today.

I still have my 1990 paperback edition that contains multi-colored highlighted and underlined phrases. But it’s been a long time since I’ve read it and it took me a while to find my copy. I went looking for it after having coffee with Jonathan Busarow, executive artistic director of the fabulous Fort Wayne Children’s Choir.

When I asked Jonathan for some fundraising advice, he mentioned that board engagement is key. Board members are the connectors that staffers need. “They don’t have to do the asking,” he said, “but their role is to help the organization.”

Jonathan said this is just like the Abundance Mentality from 7 Habits. “There are plenty of people to serve, it’s not the Scarcity Mentality. It’s freeing, actually,” he said.

I nodded my head in agreement but later had to look up what Jonathan was talking about.

The Abundance Mentality means there is plenty out there for everybody. Covey wrote, “It recognizes the unlimited possibilities for positive interactive growth and development.”

This trait is part of the Win/Win Habit. According to Covey (and Jonathan), if you look at others through the Abundance Mentality, you will genuinely value their differences and be happy for their success; this leads to sincere understanding and cooperative solutions that are better than if you had done the work alone. I like how Jonathan has connected this to board engagement and fundraising.

Thanks to Jonathan, I will continue to ask my board members to be involved in fundraising. And to re-re-re-re-read 7 Habits.

 

The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Embassy or the PCNRC.

Be on the lookout – A Fundraiser’s Journey

A Fundraiser’s Journey

Kelly Updike for PCNRC

 “Don’t ignore any opportunity, no matter how weird.”

That’s the fundraising advice from Mark Becker, currently a director with the city’s Parks Department (Riverfront project) and former Greater Fort Wayne CEO and deputy mayor of Fort Wayne.

Mark works with all kinds of people and organizations, from health care to manufacturing to nonprofits. He’s been part of the rebirth of downtown Fort Wayne and worked on the Harrison Square projects. So Mark and I will always be connected by a really strange phone call about 10 years ago.

I had not been long in my job at the Embassy when the city called to ask if we would discuss ramming a sky bridge into the side of the Embassy and creating a pedestrian passage through its third floor so that a new hotel could be built. If I had pooh-poohed that first phone call, which was pretty hilarious, and not called my board chair to take a meeting that we both thought was probably a waste of time, then floors of the former Indiana Hotel would still be standing empty. You see, the sky bridge was the catalyst for further and massive Embassy renovations.

As Mark says, you never know where it will go, long term.

Mark also says to look for opportunities, not just react to them. That means when a couple of prominent community leaders asked me “what’s next?” at a social gathering (not a business meeting), I rallied and rattled off four projects that seemed a bit pie-in-the-sky. But, wow, those folks really connected to two ideas and asked for meetings and proposals. Less than a year later we are juggling a funded feasibility study and a new renovation project backed by significant donors.

Moral of this story? It’s okay to be a weirdo. Phew, thank goodness.

 

The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Embassy or the PCNRC.

Keep at it – A Fundraiser’s Journey

A Fundraiser’s JourneyKelly pic

Kelly Updike for PCNRC

Two separate instances have converged in my head. Ouch!

The first is from a meeting with Dan Swartz, he of Wunderkammer Company. Dan is planning his second annual Design Week, for which he has obtained a sizeable grant to pay for speakers and marketing. This has given him the freedom to obtain great speakers to participate. People who are significant to their field in a national and even world-class way. Some have local ties to this region.

Dan says he just asks. He figures out how to contact the person, by email or through an assistant, and he asks. He says the person will usually reply and is gracious. Sometimes the person says yes, which means Design Week will again have some phenomenal speakers.

The second is from the My City Summit organized by Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana (YLNI). This year’s theme was diversity. At this event, too, the speakers were local and national, all terrific.

I left this event thinking about our roles in these changing times. We are cranky, according to the keynote speaker, Rich Benjamin. Another speaker, Fort Wayne’s own Courtney Tritch, pointed out that diversity is a needed economic driver. People move to areas where there is freedom and respect for all. Each speaker asked us what we were doing about it.

On the surface these two meetings were very different. But they both ended up in the same place in my mind:

It does not matter where you are politically, uppercase R or D. What matters is that we work every day to make a difference. Our organizations in particular directly impact others.

What are we going to do to help others continue through these times?

We ask and then we ask again. Simply, purely, clearly. As fundraisers. As advocates. As caregivers. As artists. As one human being to another.

Ask. Don’t stop asking.

 

The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Embassy or the PCNRC.

Let’s Put On A Show

A Fundraiser’s Journey

Kelly Updike for PCNRCKelly Updike

When I was casting about for upcoming blog topics, a staffer suggested I write about what a bad idea it is to have a stage show for a fundraiser. Oh, yeah, everyone around the table agreed, please tell people it’s a bad idea.

OMG, you say, how can people who work at the Embassy say that?

Because it’s true. Many people approach us with their great idea for putting something on stage because they think it’s an easy path to making a lot of money. However, it’s not the backyard simplicity expressed in Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland movies.

This is true for any fundraising event. There are risks, even after careful planning. Continue reading

Not Feelin’ It

A Fundraiser’s JourneyKelly Updike

Kelly Updike for PCNRC

There very nearly was not an October Fundraiser’s Journey blog post. I’ve had writer’s block before but this was Gibraltar.

Completely out of options, I asked a superb fundraiser if she had some ideas for you. She was totally jazzed by the question and surprised me with her response. She said I knew the answer already because I had just shared it with a group of very tired staffers.

Like Dorothy clicking her ruby-reds, sometimes we need to be reminded that we have the power all along.

First, take a deep breath, stop panicking. You are a very successful person. Reflect on where you are and how you got there. Then pick one thing to do next, just one. Focus on that. You’ve got to take the first step to begin the journey.

Still not feeling it? Take a different turn in the road: Look at your donor list again. There’s at least one interesting person in there. Then get out of the office. Make a visit with that donor. Saying thank-you is fun. Stay out of the office: It’s energizing to talk with your clients or patrons, the people you serve. And grab a coffee with some colleagues; nothing’s better than a group hug.

Now you’re feelin’ it!

[Special shout-out to Nancy Louraine, our very own Glinda.]

The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Embassy or the PCNRC.