Shared Inspiration by Catherine Crooker
Inspire: to influence, move, or guide by divine or supernatural inspiration; to exert an animating, enlivening, or exalting influence on; to spur on: impel, motivate; to draw forth or bring out – Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary
I have been helping non-profits raise money since 1985 when I got my first job at the Easter Seal Society. As a kid just out of college I sat on the phone all day calling school librarians around the state to see if they would participate in the society’s read-a-thon program. (Remember the era of the “a-thon”? Before the Ice Bucket Challenge and way before email?)
On some days the job was tedious beyond belief – calling and calling and calling, often just leaving messages, sometimes getting a very curt, rude response. What kept me going? Why did I keep showing up at that job – besides the fact that I had to eat – and what on earth led me from there to forming my own company over 30 years later to help more organizations learn how to raise more money?
At Easter Seals I became inspired – I was inspired by what we were doing. Easter Seals clients often came to our building for therapy in our shallow warm-water pool. I had the great fortune to get to know some of them and to see the remarkable progress they made working with our dedicated therapists.
I was inspired by the school librarians who said “yes” when I called. Busy people with busy jobs agreed to add yet another chore to their plates, inspiring their students to read books to raise money to help people they had never met.
I was inspired by the kids. They went out and told the Easter Seals story to relatives and friends, widening the circle of people helping people they would never meet.
And that is what has kept me going all these years. I am inspired every day. I am inspired by the dedicated staff, volunteers and donors who care enough for our community and our world to give time and money to people they will never meet.
People say fundraising is hard, and honestly, some days it is. I regularly hear comments such as “I could never do that – how can you ask someone for money?” But when you, your volunteers and your donors are inspired, it is one of the easiest jobs in the world. You tap into that inspiration to lift you through the challenging times, the parts of the process that are outside your comfort zone.
Many times in my career donors have thanked ME for helping show them how they could get involved and make a difference. They were inspired to engage, to give back, to help someone they never met. And they inspire me to reach out and share their stories and lessons learned with you.