At a dinner with friends on this past Friday night, my curious, extroverted 8-year old daughter asked my buddy Snehah if she could have some money. It was an innocent request. Snehah was multi-tasking and transferring a wad of cash from her jacket pocket to her purse while patiently entertaining my daughter’s barrage of questions. I was mortified. Daggers were shooting out of my eyes as I quickly changed the subject and luckily, soon after, our delicious meal arrived.
But then I got to thinking…that innocent request was exactly what I do for a living on a daily basis. As a grant writer, a communications specialist and a development consultant, I am constantly asking for money. Granted, it’s done in a more formalized package, but when you get down to the nuts and bolts, I basically make a living asking for money.
When I came to this realization, I had a conversation with my daughter about societal and cultural values relating to money and the unwritten moral rules surrounding the topic of money. But honestly, navigating through all these “rules” can be confusing to a 3rd grader and really got me wondering about why most Americans (myself included) are hung up on the taboo of discussing one’s finances in public. I’d love to hear any stories you may have relating to this subject matter and how you handled your situation!
In late summer and early fall, I spent weeks designing holiday appeal packets for two of my local clients. Endorsing my belief that photographic images are one of the best ways to communicate messages, I developed designs that used actual photos from programs and participants in each agency. Below I have provided examples. Let me know if you like these colorful image-driven appeals better than the typical one-page letter that most organizations mail out around the holidays.
According to the website www.globalgiving.org, “on average, organizations throughout the U.S. raise 30 – 40% of their annual income during the last few weeks of the year.” Effectively asking for money can make or break an agency’s budget, especially important as all of us in the tax-exempt business industry grit our teeth and crawl slowly and steadily out of our country’s economic crisis!
Great post! Money is often ‘the elephant in the room.’ Facilitating dialogues about money can be healthy and empowering for all involved. Your graphic image-driven fund raising materials are engaging to me in 2 ways: first – the participant photos draw me in, second – the dollar amounts tied to results/and what’s needed most really show a powerful ‘call to action’. Congrats on your ‘collection’ of wonderful clients. You are a change agent taking social action to a new level. I appreciate your inspiration!
I agree Marta, dialogues about money can be healthy and empowering for all involved! That is exactly why our team who is assisting the FL SAND group (Florida Self-Advocates Network’D) will be offering a break- out session on financial benefits available to persons with disabilities at the FL SAND annual conference in Orlando, FL on December 6-8th.
Let’s keep in touch Marta and keep this discussion alive! Thanks for commenting!
Slightly fueled by Grace-Anne’s savy business etiquette, and a recent paralleling Ted Talk
( https://www.ted.com/playlists/91/everything_you_thought_was.html ), I entered a United Nations Roundtable discussion and began to discuss social/systems problems that create discrimination and social problems .
All around the room folks rightfully spoke about the need for more education, better education. The second hot topic of the evening was the decline in grant funding for 501c3 organizations. Sparked with this new found inspiration I suggested that businesses (501c3) need to find a way to make up for decreased grant funding and to become other sustaining similar to LLC Businesses. The mere mention of money paired with the 501c3 title swung allegations my way of missing out on the mission, and what it’s “really all about.” It seemed as though folks felt like the less money produced made the mission stronger, more charitable. One person discussed how little his organization ran on, while another person discussed how their effort was more important because it was volunteer-based only.
Opinions aside, I tend to think that people invest in what is important to them and what has proven results. I made sure to clarify within that meeting that the mission that I work for to provide opportunities and change expectations for folks so they can have the life that they want is incredibly strong, as much so that I would say it is my life’s mission. I think the missing piece of the puzzle is that if 501c3’s are successful it means we will see individual change in those we work for, social change, and if we try hard enough worldwide impact!
Finances are the elephant in the room, especially when we think of 501c3, but with changing structures/funding available we have to change the way we look at them while maintaining the mission, something Grace-Anne, I give you many kudos for!