In my role at a fundraising agency, I don’t have much chance to speak to anyone aside from my co-workers and the fundraising departments of our charity clients. I get to read nice case studies and hear my accounts department talk about the clients’ work, but I rarely get to see this work for myself. And it’s just not the same.
That’s why last week, I was excited to get out of the office for a few hours and head south of the Thames to do a couple of interviews. I got to speak to two women who work for one of the UK’s leading medical charities, helping people to pick up the pieces and move on after being suddenly struck with a serious medical condition. By acting as a support system to their patients, aiding them with almost every aspect of their lives – sometimes for years as they recover, they are heroes to those they help.
I can’t get into the specifics of their work due to confidentiality, but I can tell you that while speaking to these women and seeing their eyes well up with tears as they told the stories of the people they work with, I felt injected with a shot of inspiration.
THIS is why.
Why I’ve chosen to devote my life to raising money to fund the work of people like this – those who have committed to low pay and long hours in the name of doing what’s right. This was my reminder.
When you’re working at the admin level, it’s much too easy to get focused on small frustrations like the client changing your words or design. (How badly I often long to pull a Tom Ahern!) I spend too much time checking the boxes; easy to navigate layout, personalized variants, using the word ‘you’ as much as possible, sticking an ask in the P.S., coming up with new ways to say ‘Dear Friend’, or new synonyms for ‘support’– all important fundraising writing techniques, but none of these things have much to do with passion.
But as a fundraising writer, I need to be able to persuade people to do one of the most difficult things imaginable; reach into their wallets, get out their checkbooks, and hand over their hard earned cash for nothing but a (hopefully) nice feeling. I’m not a good enough writer to fake my belief in the cause. Maybe you are, but I’m not. I actually need to believe.
And this is why re-igniting the passion needs to happen constantly.
I’ll admit, I was going through petty, personal frustration with this charity – I was losing the belief. But after hearing these two women speak, I ran back to the office and announced that I now felt everyone should leave all their money to this cause. That conversation made their work that important to me. I felt what these women were doing was absolutely vital, and losing their service was just not an option. And when I write their letter, it will be with all the conviction that they themselves would bring. It’s the least I can do to help them.
This cause isn’t one particularly close to my heart. Perhaps that’s why the reminder was so important to me. But I believe it’s necessary no matter what cause you’re fundraising for. Even the issues I feel most strongly about are amplified after I’ve seen something first hand or heard a powerful story straight from the source.
It’s far too easy to grow apart from your cause when you’re working in the office. Yes, it takes time and money to tear yourself away from that and go out into the field but if it helps you write more passionately, and believe more genuinely in what you’re doing, I think it’s well worth it.
Do you think it’s necessary to visit your front lines every few weeks or do you feel this is a poor use of resources? Comments please!