Homeless youth

Homeless youth
People we don't see.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

I don't beg

I have been fundraising for several years. When I tell people I am meeting for the first time what I do for a living, they usually say something about fundraising.

"I would hate to have to beg for money all of the time" is a common response.

There are some people who actually believe that. When I respond with something like "well, I don't beg" then the immediate response is usually "oh, I know" and then they try to explain their original response.

I don't take it as an insult, I simply want to correct them.

You see, as a fundraiser I am in the relationship business. I don't need to beg or keep my fingers crossed for a check or think about how much someone is going to give me when I am meeting them. I am always focused on building a lifelong relationship with someone, a group of people, a foundation or a business.

All I think about is their vision and our vision and how those two visions meet to potentially create an amazing relationship that benefits them and us.

It's that simple.

Many times I say that I am keeping my eye on the prize. The prize is the relationship. And I always remember that an amazing relationship between me and our donors and supporters can only make our agency stronger and only be better for our mission.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Lessons Learned: Training for a half marathon

I have written a couple of blog posts about my training as I prepare to run the half marathon portion of the Colfax Marathon on May 19th. At 7:00am.

For those of you who, like me just a couple of months ago had no idea, a half marathon is 13.1 miles.

Two months ago I could barely run one mile. One my first training run six weeks ago I thought I wasn't going to make it after 2.5 miles. I could barely catch a breathe and I felt parts of my legs and feet that I had never felt. Last week I ran a 12.25 mile training run!

I am running this to raise money for Urban Peak, the amazing non-profit I am privileged to work for, that serves youth experiencing homelessness.

While training, I have learned so much, both around running and about life, and have been reminded of many things I already knew but may not think about often. So here you go:

First, about running:

Stretching is SO important. Really stretching. Find a friend who is already a runner and ask them to teach you. It makes a HUGE difference.

Invest in solid running shoes. Go to a place that can video you running and then will offer you shoes on what they see. My shoes were on sale by 20% and cost me $85.00. It's a lot (for me) but totally worth it.

My best, most comfortable and longest training runs have been in the morning after a good night's sleep. I drink lots of water starting when I wake, and drink a smoothie with kale, blueberries, flax seed and Arbonne protein powder. For some reason the combination of all of these helps me run longer.

My average pace on my 12.25 mile run was 13:45. That is slow for many but just perfect for me. I want to finish, that's all.

Music is important for me. I created a latino pop station on Pandora and Juanes, Carlos Vives, Diego Torres, Mana, Shakira and Bacilos get me going.

Have fun. Make it fun. I run around Sloan's Lake in Denver and love it. All of the other runners, cute dogs, and views of the lake and the mountains.

Now, about life in general:

My friends, family and husband are the best ever. I feel their love and support on a daily basis, and training for this run has been no different. Several of my friends are runners and they been huge in showing me the way.

I would do anything for causes I am passionate about. A couple of months ago I would have NEVER of considered training for a half-marathon, or any type of run. Throw in an opportunity to support young people who are experiencing homelessness and I am there!

I can do so much physically. At 47 I consider myself fit, but never thought I could run distance. This experience has taught me that if I work at it, I can accomplish a lot in trying to stay fit.

One day at a time. I have been trying to live like this for a long time. Most days I am successful. Training for a half marathon forces me to do it.

Don't quit. I know, I've even written blog posts about this. Never give up. You can do it.

And you don't have to do it by yourself. As I said at the start of this, family and friends and even new friends can help in so many ways.

An open mind works best, like a parachute, when open. I'm sure some of you have seen this bumper sticker. Amen. I agree. Being open to others experiences and opinions and feedback makes life so much much easier. And better.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Building lifelong relationships

This phrase is heard often in our development office.

It's not about a donation.

It's not about a check.

It's not about someone attending one of our events.

Everything we do is all about building a lifelong relationship between someone and our agency. To take their care for what we do and build from that. To take their interest in our mission and vision and grow it.

Lifelong relationships. Lifelong partnerships.

We are similar to many organizations in that we have donors who have given for several years and typically give the same amount around the same time of the year. We have donors who for some reason or another stopped giving last year or even several years ago. We don't know why.

We don't know why because we never asked. What we do now is try to engage with donors as much as possible. If you typically make a donation in May, then we hope to chat with you in April. If we know that you received our latest appeal and our latest newsletter yet haven't heard from you in over a year, then we check in. That might look like a personal note or an email. Just a simple check in.

I always have believed in the best intent of people who donate to us. After having made over one hundred calls to donors just since I started a couple of months ago, I know that our donors are just as busy as we are and in most cases cannot believe that it has already been or year or so since they made their last donation.

Time flies. For us, and for our donors.

Recently I decided to spend the night out on the streets of Denver to get a small glimpse into what the youth we serve go through every day. You can check out my previous post if you'd like to read about that. Taking that story and that experience and sharing it with donors has very much added to our relationships. Donors want to know what's happening at your organization. They want to know about the ups and downs, the successes and the challenges.

They also want to know how you spent their money. This is huge when creating lifelong relationships. After we receive a donation, we make a quick cal to thank them, which is followed up by their thank you/tax letter. A few months later we send them another letter that tells them how we spent their donation.

Hello lifelong relationship.

The biggest reason I know about the power of all of this in building relationship is that this is how I want to be treated as a donor. I want to know how things are going and I want to know how you spent my money.

Thanks for reading. I would love your feedback. My email is dan.hanley@urbanpeak.org