As my current sidebar says, I’m on the board of WE LEARN (Women Expanding Literacy Education Action Resource Network), and right now we’re in the difficult position of needing to raise a significant amount of money in a relatively short time. I’m asking the folks I know to make donations if they can, asking my family to give however much they were planning to spend on my Christmas present to WE LEARN. This organization means a lot to me, and I don’t want to see it fold.
At our board retreat in September, fundraising was a big part of our conversation. We even had a chance to role play some situations in which individual board members might have the chance to give the famous “elevator speech” — where you step into an elevator and, as the doors close, realize that you’re alone with Melinda Gates or Oprah or … I don’t know, Geoffrey Canada. You have two minutes, max, to make your case for why Melinda, Oprah or Geoffrey should give money to your little grassroots organization. Go!
This is precisely the kind of thing I suck at. Being succinct is hardly my strong suit. Getting tongue-tied in front of someone like Oprah would be another problem to deal with. And I’m sorry, but I’m really not sure I’d recognize Melinda Gates … or even Geoffrey Canada (yes, I’m saying that after having spent two days last week looking at the man!). And don’t get me started with how hard it is to ask for money! Anyway, I’ve always had myself pegged as a failure with the elevator speech bit.
But then I suddenly found myself chatting with some writer friends I hadn’t seen in years. We were catching up, and I mentioned my chapter in the Empowering Women book and, before I had a chance to even think about it, Elevator Speak was coming out of my mouth. I described WE LEARN in about 30 seconds, outlined our current situation in another 30 and told them how much I’d appreciate a donation from them.
Where’d that come from? Who knows, but I’m glad it came. I am currently drafting an appeal letter that one of those women is going to send out to her feminist email list and I’m expanding my original request list to include some people I felt a little shy or hesitant to include in the first go-round. I’m committed to raising at least $500 by the end of the year, so it’s a good thing I’ve found my pitch voice at last!
As for you, dear reader, I won’t be catching you in an elevator any time soon, but if you’d like to help me reach my fundraising total, please click over to our Groundspring page and make a donation in my name (Stacie). Even a very small donation will make a big difference for us. Your help is greatly appreciated.
Visit our website to read all about the work WE LEARN does. And, too, you can check out our little video (and yes, that is me, with a slightly tamed version of the Cleo Jones hair!):