In 2012, our Dutch initiative Alpe d’HuZes raised no less than 32.3 million euros. When we started out in 2006, we raised a little over 300,000 euros, so this year we brought in 100 times more than six years ago. That seems impossible and incredible at the same time, but that is what we do: impossible things.
Muhammad Ali, the greatest boxer of all time, once said: ‘Impossible is nothing’, which is essentially different from ‘Nothing is impossible’. The simple fact that people mostly think in terms of what is NOT possible prevents them from reaching for their highest aspirations. If Ali would have thought in terms of what was not possible he most certainly would not have become The Greatest.
To reach for the impossible makes most people feel uneasy. If you really want something and go for it, you show others what really drives you, which gives people a feeling of vulnerability. To put it more strongly: it makes them vulnerable, but actually, you get empowered by expressing your needs, fears and ambitions. It is liberating to let go of your fears.
This is expressed beautifully by Marianne Williamson in her poem ‘Our deepest Fear’:
‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate,
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.’
People are usually more afraid of their own possibilities than of their weaknesses. They hide their weaknesses and do not show their talents, qualities, powers and longings. And that is exactly what we should do to reach for the impossible: tell people what our needs are. How good we are at certain things. What are your talents? Show them to the world. It will invite other people to express their talents and needs, and together you will most certainly reach the impossible. In the words of Marianne Williamson:
‘Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that others won’t feel insecure around you.’
And now for fundraising. In 2006 we said that we would aim for continuous growth. Growth in terms of more people working for the fight against cancer. ‘Getting cancer under control’. The amazing sight of all the cyclists, runners, volunteers, sponsors and fans, of all those people on that mountain is a driving force to do more than we normally can. To be altruistic and do things not for our own sake, but only for the benefit of others. And we also go for growth in terms of money. More money each year. And by more, I mean an infinite lot more. In six years we went from a little more than 300,000 euros to over 30 million euros.
8,000 cyclists know one thing for sure: cancer is about emotion and about the loss and possible loss of loved ones. We all share the essence of life: ‘living together’. All of us. This goes beyond countries, religion, culture, race, politics and gender. It’s what it’s all about. At Alpe d’HuZes we urge people to express their emotions and sorrows. We urge them to use their talents for fundraising by telling their stories about their own struggles. About the loss of their loved ones, or about their joy over a cured mother or child. And guess what happens? They appeal to the deepest fears of the people they meet. They feel their own sorrow and loss or possible loss. And they know one thing for sure: if we want to beat cancer we have to join forces and think big. We have to view the future with confidence. Think victory; think possibilities. Always. And never ever quit.
‘Impossible is nothing’, Muhammad Ali said it years ago and became The Greatest. At Alpe d’HuZes we adopted that thought. We reached for the impossible because it is necessary and it can be done. Let go of your fears and express yourself to others. Don’t be disappointed if you fail at one thing – next time you will succeed. Never ever quit, victory is near. As Rainer Maria Rilke put it so beautifully:
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
By appealing to this thought and asking for the impossible from all our cyclists, runners, volunteers and sponsors: to join forces and bring together an incredible amount of money each year. It certainly is a mountain of money. And it brings hope. It is hope.
This post is part of 101fundraising’s IFC coverage. During his 2012 closing plenary, Coen van Veenendaal, CEO of Understanding Life!, cited Peter Kapitein — along with Mahatma Gandhi and Albert Einstein — as his inspiration.
This year 101fundraising is the official blog partner of the International Fundraising Congress (IFC), the world’s leading conference on fundraising. This blog post is part of a special IFC Blog Series, where we give IFC speakers a chance to share their wisdom before the conference. Attending crowdbloggers will get a chance to share their views after the conference!