How You Saved Me From My Year Two Funk

Posted more than a year ago.

Fundraising is Hard.

I’m not going to win a Pulitzer for that revelation, but I think it’s worth saying. Grinding away at a campaign like Thrive is difficult, exhausting business.

Imagine waking up every morning knowing you need millions of dollars. Actually, you need and you’ve promised millions of dollars… and to a family you love deeply. Day after day you roll out of bed ready but scared, knowing your sole strategy for fulfilling that massive promise hinges on the notion that a mysterious group of people, people you might not even know yet, will give you that money.

Invest that money for a return with you? No. Use it to purchase a great product from you? Nope. Trade it for an awesome experience or service you’re providing? Nuh-uh.

Give it to you.

Frightened yet? Now consider the idea that this crazy quest you’re on has no end. Sure, you’ll hit some epic milestones from time to time, but the end zone is always several steps in front of you and moving at a pretty awesome clip.

“We made budget!! By the way, we need $4 million.” That’s life for a non-profit.

New Year. Old Hill.

Today marks an exciting new beginning—Thrive: Year Three! And as we satisfyingly dust our hands of one fiscal year and look ahead to the next, I’m particularly mindful of just how hard fundraising can be… and of the toll it’s taken lately on my perspective and my attitude. Perhaps as you’ve followed along, Thrive has worn on you similarly?

As the goals extend and the time ticks away, I feel like I’m scaling a hill made of mud. It robbed me of my boots and my clean composure miles ago, and now I’m just on an angry, stubborn slog.

I didn’t make this hill.” I think. “I don’t deserve this hill.” I think. “But I will die climbing.”

Whole lot of “I” in that outlook, though… (Been there?) Whole lot of slog; not enough drive. Whole lot of fretting on future impossibilities; never a look back to see the impossible happening time and again. 

I regularly get so lost in the challenge of my small part, that I forget that the reason for the hike is much bigger than me…that the mission to the top has never been a one-person job…and that I’ve never really been on this hill alone, anyway. In fact, if I’m honest, rare is the moment when I have actually done the climbing.

More often than not, someone is pushing me.

Year Two. In Perspective.

Yep. Year Two was hard. But today I’m shaking off my funk for 7,780 reasons. That’s how many people have believed enough in Thrive to give. Give, remember. Not trade, use, or invest for return. Give.

You’re very likely one of those awesome people.

I’m also shaking off my funk for every incredible dollar you’ve committed. 25,589,982 of them. Now I tend to work with big numbers a lot and that has a way of warping your thinking, so let’s put that figure in perspective. If our donors brought us that same money in a stack of $1 bills, that stack would weigh 27.8 tons and top out at 9,161 feet tall. I doubt that cash would fit in our vault, given a stack like that is three times the height of the tallest skyscraper in the world.

If your train of thought now stalls at “whoa,” we can be friends.

I didn’t earn that money. I didn’t give that money. I don’t deserve that money. But still it’s committed and it’s going to work on some truly special projects. Case in point, here’s a quick snap of our new coffee shop, percolating now:

Coffee Shop View

Look at that view. Mix in some caffeine and the energized chatter of Eagles at work and I could live here. And this is just one of the projects happening this summer. (More soon on the others!)

Setting Free the Funk. 

So here we are, staring down the barrel of Thrive: Year Three, after a very tiring Year Two. But, while 24 hours ago I was fixated on my own exhaustion, today I’m celebrating your mind-boggling impact. You’re pushing us up the hill and, wow, how far and how hard you’ve pushed.  You didn’t know you were doing it, but your daring generosity has rescued my perspective and my spirit, too.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Get behind me, funk. We’re Thriving over here. 

-Will