Monday, October 14, 2013

Who's Your A-Team?

Act #287:   Surround  yourself with awesome.

So I run a small non-profit organization with a budget a bit over $1 million.  In my former life, my colleagues and I often complained about our laptops being too slow, or not getting raises more than 3%.  These days, I scrounge just to have working computers for my staff and raises are but a distant dream.  The funny thing about resources and money is that it takes money to make money - and with a skeleton administrative staff of only three, raising money can be quite the challenge.  In an ideal world an agency like mine would have a communications coordinator, an event planner, a web and social media coordinator, and a graphic designer on staff to help with public relations and messaging....which would in turn help promote awareness about our mission:  to eradicate sexual violence......which would then hopefully elicit communities and individuals to want to support that mission either through action or through donating time and resources.  And the catch is this - most funders do not want to fund positions that do not provide direct services to survivors, and we have to raise funds through private donations to cover all non-direct service positions. 

And there lies the dilemma.  It takes money to raise money.  And without people raising the money, we don't have the help pay for their salaries.  A vicious cycle, that most people might find completely and utterly overwhelming, but for some insane reason, I find completely and utterly invigorating.  Here's why. 

I discovered early on that clearly, we are not in a position to allocate $200,000 to pay for salary and benefits for four new staff members for duties that we so desperately need.  So what's a gal to do?  Two simple things:

1.  Reach out to all the movers and shakers that I have met in my lifetime.
2.  Ask them out for coffee.

Up until two years ago, I had no idea just how fortunate I have been to cross paths with such talented people.  I'm talking untapped innovation, creativity, and passion who should (and sometimes already are) running their respective professional fields.  And after many, many e-mails and phone calls, and over many, many lattes and hot teas with me laying out my crazy vision to eradicate violence, I now find myself surrounded by what I like to call, my "Creative Team of Awesome".  Not only are they awesome, but they are incredibly passionate about making a difference.  So now my little non-profit is graced with a former communications director of a college department (that I used to casually cross paths with at community organizing events), an amazing local feminist artist who does beautiful graphic design work (who I knew socially, but haven't seen in over 8 years), and a former event planner who just received her MBA (who used to be a student of mine)...............all working for a tiny fraction of their professional worth.  Over the next year, this Creative Team of Awesome will create a messaging and communications plan for my agency, transform our public presence, and allow us to develop deeper, more meaningful relationships with the communities that we serve.  I can't tell you how much their contributions mean to our agency, especially when I know that they are making at least three times as much doing the exact same work for others.  No, I can't afford to have these folks on staff full-time, but there is no doubt that they are 100% committed to bettering not only this agency, but the world around them.   I am humbled to be serving my community alongside such remarkable individuals.  While it may take money to make money, it also takes awesomeness and passion to transform the world.  And there's certainly no shortage of that around here.

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