When Asking for Someone for a Million Dollars is Good for You – and the World
I believe in asking people for money. Not surprising, you might say, when you learn that I raise money for a charity. No one is born wanting to be a fundraiser. But I was born wanting to make the world a better place. In third grade I began reading the newspaper and was troubled by stories of starving children, lost cats and lakes poisoned by mercury. I wanted to help, but I had no idea how. I was just a kid. No one special. Years later I majored in business because I didn’t know what else to study. There just wasn’t a degree program in “changing the world.” Besides, who was I to think I could? After I graduated I worked for an ad agency in Chicago. I sold fish sticks and cereal and washing machines and they told me that it was the most important work in the world, that I was one of the lucky ones. And I believed them. At least until I noticed that no one cared about me beyond my 60-hour work weeks. Everything was about money. Lots of it.
I began to think that money made people bad. So I quit the ad business. And then I found the nonprofit world, where I discovered that money wasn’t bad at all. In fact, money by itself wasn’t anything. It all depended on how people decided it would serve them. And those intentions could not only be good, but grand.
People often tell me that they would be scared witless to ask someone for a hundred dollars, much less a million. And let me tell you, asking for a million dollars is terrifying. But it’s the kind of scary that makes you grow, not the kind that makes your soul crumple. It’s the kind of fear that nudges you to jump off that cliff because boy are you gonna whoop it up when you land in the water. Because asking for money isn’t really about asking for money. It’s about asking someone to change the world for the better because we can’t do it without them.
Every day I meet and talk to donors who inspire me, befriend me, sometimes even parent me. They want to make a difference and lucky for me, they believe I can help them do that. In turn, they’ve helped me see that I truly have something to offer. Here I am, 46 years-old and I still want to change the world. And I am. One dollar at a time.
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