For the first time in my life this year, I am fundraising and let me just say, it is NOT easy. I mean for one, that pesky thing called Ego gets involved and shit, once that shows up things get a little tricky. But, it hasn’t been all bad.
Although I committed myself to the cause (raising money through Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society) maybe a month or so ago, I didn’t throw myself into it until about a week ago. I started organizing a barbecue fundraiser and I went to dozens of businesses in downtown Saratoga and asked them to contribute toward my raffle. I remember as I was driving to Saratoga that day, I almost changed my mind because the fear of actually holding out my hand and asking for something from them became so overwhelming. When it comes to pitches and presentations, well let’s just say I am no saleswoman. But then I realized, what the hell do I have to lose? What’s the worst that can happen — they’ll say no? So what?
I kept driving, but by the time I arrived in town, I had more excuses not to go through with it than when I began driving. It’s lunchtime, they’re probably busy, I said to myself. Oh, let me just take a few minutes to finish my coffee. Hmm, I should probably just come back tomorrow. Wait, let me Google tips on pitching this sort of thing to merchants. I should probably just get back to work, I’ll fall really behind if I don’t. They’ll probably want documents, I don’t have anything to show them. I sat in the warmth of my car, turning over excuse after excuse in my head. And then, I opened the door and walked out, my fear in tow.
I should’ve probably memorized my pitch. I didn’t. I was lucky, the second place I visited the owner wrote me a check for $50 before I even finished my spiel. I became a little more brazen with each place I visited. And then I made it a personal goal not to leave before procuring at least five items — a goal I achieved in under two hours. I drove away feeling very pleased with myself and with a renewed sense of excitement about my fundraiser.
But, not everyone shared my excitement. I took it personally every time someone declined my BBQ fundraiser. This is for cancer, why don’t people care?? I wondered to myself. On the flip side, people I wasn’t even in touch with or close to reached out, offering to help, giving me donations and encouragement. This morning, I received a note from a guy I went to college with that put this whole thing in perspective for me. He said that both he and his mom have had cancer. “I know how great a cause it is. It’s something really important to me,” he wrote, and wished me well.
I was so humbled. Here all along I’d felt almost rejected by the people I’d counted on helping, as if this was about me, and then, here was someone I hadn’t spoken to in at least six years, opening his heart and reminding me WHY I’m doing this in the first place.
I’m going to give this thing my best. I have just a little over two weeks to do as much fundraising as I can. I set my goal to $500 today. Who knows I may exceed it… or come short. But that’s not important. What is important is the time and energy and passion I’m putting into doing something for this cause that I’ve come to care about deeply over the past year. There’s so much more I can do and this is just one small part of the solution, regardless of how much I ultimately raise or how many people show up to my fundraising event.