Leverage Your Networks and Transform the World

The day my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer was the scariest day of my life. The day she died was the loneliest. In the nine years that passed between those two life-changing days, I did everything in my power to save her.

I’m not a doctor, I’m not a scientist, I’m not a researcher. My ability to save my mom rested on my ability to fundraise. Leveraging my networks to raise money for the doctors, scientists, and researchers who could save her was the one thing I could do. So I did. I started fundraising and the experience moved me so much that I changed career paths. I saw how peer-to-peer fundraising created an opportunity for ordinary people to do extraordinary things and I wanted to be a part of it.

As a fundraising consultant for Plenty, my favorite part of my job is connecting with passionate people who are making the world a kinder and gentler place for others. And you, the World Pulse community, inspire me. Thank you for being women of action.

Whether you are raising money to pay the high school tuition for girls in your community, or starting your own business to make a better life for your family, or working towards any number of goals that will contribute to a better world, your ability to manifest change is only limited by your willingness to ask for support.

And that is my first piece of advice: you need to ask.

  1. Ask, ask, ask. When you are fundraising, you need to ask everyone you come into contact with in the course of a day, a week, a month, a year. And don’t decide for someone whether or not she can afford to donate. Share your vision of a better world, ask for her support, and then trust that she will recognize it as an opportunity to be part of something powerful. And if she says no? Shake it off and keep asking. Someone else will say yes.  
  2. Create a sense of urgency. People respond to deadlines. We’ve found that open-ended campaigns do not perform as well as those with a set start and end date. A deadline set too far in the future or no deadline at all may cause potential donors to think, “There’s no hurry, I’ll get to it.” And then life gets in the way and your request ends up getting lost in an inbox or under a stack of bills on the kitchen table. Motivate your donors to act now.  
  3. Share your story. I’m not someone who is naturally comfortable being vulnerable. However, I have found that the more authentic and personal my story when fundraising, the more generously people respond. I’ve seen that with clients as well. When you share your story, when you strive to be open and authentic, people will see how important it is to you and respond in kind. And if you’re anything like me, it may take some practice to get your story to a place with which you are comfortable. Start by writing it down if that would help you. Then try to share it in person with a family member or close friend. Ask for their feedback, adjust as needed, and then take it to your broader network.

That’s what I’ve got to get the conversation started. I look forward to creating a dialogue together, so please ask questions and share your own experiences in the comments section below.  We are a strong and diverse group of women and, together, we can and will create meaningful change.

As for my mom, even though it’s too late to help her, I truly believe that she set me on this path. Through the work that I’m doing with my colleagues at Plenty – helping organizations harness the power of networks so they can create a lasting change – I’m honoring my mom’s memory and maybe even saving someone else from knowing what it’s like to lose the most important person in their life to cancer, hunger, drunk driving, or any myriad of diseases or preventable catastrophes. What’s your inspiration?