In a daunting moment of self-awareness, here’s something I’ve come to understand… I’m going to be a volunteer fundraiser for the rest of my life.
I’m currently immersed in selling tickets for an extraordinary event in my neighbourhood for Justin Trudeau. More on that later…
As I send emails to friends, family and colleagues, encouraging them to buy tickets for this really wonderful gathering, it occurs to me that I’ve been raising money for some kind of cause for my entire adult life. I’ve reflected on why I have this compulsive need to raise money. As I discover the answer, I realize that it’s probably never going to change. According to my perpetual pattern, I find myself uncontrollably…
- Identifying genuine needs
- Generating ideas to address the needs
- Being prepared to take risks and make myself vulnerable in order to put those ideas into action. (This part can be agonizing. And this is where the fundraising comes in.)
- Enjoying the fact that the risks are almost always worth the benefits. Before you know it, the cycle starts all over again.
Why are people like me forever raising money? It’s because of this sequence. We can’t help recognizing needs around us. We dream up ideas to respond to these needs. But the innovations may be risky and seldom have ready-made resources to support them. Yet when I stumble upon a great idea whose time has come, my instinct is similar to that of St. Francis of Assisi who reputedly said we should “Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible, and suddenly you’re doing the impossible.”
Turning great dreams turn into sustainable realities requires resources. Finding resources is risky business. It means putting ourselves on the line; becoming vulnerable and taking some leaps of faith. Every time I ask someone to donate to a cause that I think is important, I feel highly vulnerable in terms of my own reputation and my own self-esteem. But when I am convinced that the cause is worth it – and more than that, when I know I’m providing a great opportunity to invite someone else to be part of the solution – I feel empowered to take the leap and ask for just about anything.
Recently in this blog I referred to the Brené Brown TED talk where she upholds the importance of vulnerability. One of her memorable lines is that “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change”. I would like to go one step further. It is more than just the birthplace. Vulnerability is the fuel for innovation, creativity and change. Change is rarely possible without taking chances. Asking others to join in the effort is one way we expose ourselves to uncertainty but we also open ourselves and others to great opportunity.
I feel tremendously liberated by recognizing my own behaviour pattern. Now I’m resigned to the fact that I will never stop seeing needs around me – and I hope I never stop dreaming up ideas of how to respond. That means I will always be required to take some risks in order to find the necessary resources. But in the end, those of us who are destined to be “fundraisers forever” are the lucky ones. We get to witness the magic that happens when genuine needs are matched with generous resources. In every sense of the phrase, we find ourselves in the circle of caring.
My latest fundraising initiative is no exception to the pattern. The Liberal Party of Canada will be electing a new leader in April. I am convinced that Justin Trudeau is the best candidate for this vital role. So I’m helping to organize “A Cocktail Reception with Justin Trudeau” to be held Tuesday, March 26 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the Hilton Suites, 8500 Warden Avenue in Markham, Ontario. The gathering will be great opportunity to meet and greet Justin in a small, intimate setting with live music, fine food and cocktails. Justin will speak about community engagement and his vision for Canada. The event is hosted in the Oak Ridges – Markham riding but it is open to anyone. Tickets are $500 and a significant portion of that amount is eligible for a tax receipt. Please purchase your tickets online here. It will be a meaningful and memorable event. Join us and be part of the change as we build a better Canada.