Plan B: Satisfying Your Soul

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As I write this, I know I am among millions whose hopes and dreams were deflated in an instant last night as the Powerball jackpot winning numbers were announced. We all had grandiose ideas about what we would do with such an unfathomable sum of money and many of us included significant philanthropic efforts on our multi-millionaire agendas.  For me, that wasn’t just the politically correct thing to say. It was a sincere and passionate desire.  I have actually fantasized about the moment I would walk into the office of our CEO and gently break the news to her that I would be submitting my resignation—but that she needn’t worry because I would be giving Colorado Cancer Research Program (CCRP) a contribution so significant, they wouldn’t need to raise another dollar for at least several  years—and they could hand out a few grand to every cancer patient who has ever been in their care.  But, as fate would have it, that particular dream sequence in my self-created fantasy wasn’t in the cards.  So, on to plan B.

To set the tone for Plan B, I’m reminded of what Arnold Palmer once said about the game of golf.  “It satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening – and it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.”  I like that part about satisfying the soul.  Even the most inept of golfers often say the same thing. It’s a game that feels good.  The same is true for charity and philanthropy.  I often talk about one of the top reasons people give to charities—because it feels good.  It warms the heart and it satisfies the soul. So, it would stand to reason that when you put the two together, satisfaction of the soul is even greater.  But I’ll come back to that in a moment.

I’ve learned that it’s easier for people to understand what I do for a living if I simply say that I’m a non-profit fundraising professional—or NPFP for short.  For many, the title of Development Director always requires further explanation.  I’ve often joked with colleagues, who are also NPFPs, at the various, sometimes self-deprecating sobriquets we have given ourselves over the years, including Professional Panhandler, Shameless Beggar, Money-Groveler and Anything Goes Guy/Gal.  Personally, I prefer Incomparable Miracle Worker.

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I’m also a bit of a non-conformist—a rebel-with-a-cause, if you will—and, as such, I’ve never been afraid to try unconventional approaches and/or challenge the status quo when I felt it was warranted.  Sometimes, you have to bend and even break the rules.  That’s how things change and improve.  It’s how things evolve.

Back in 2005, we were first hearing about this new marvel of modern communication called “social media.”   Our team was attending a seminar presented by two rather persnickety and fastidious women who were considered experts in the public relations industry.  To this day, it was one of the most valuable seminars I’ve ever attended.   As part of their presentation, these two—the Miss Manners and Emily Post of the social media world—covered the rules of social media engagement, most of which seemed like no-brainers.  But there was one thing in the invisible rule book with which I took issue. We were told that with our Facebook posts, we should strive for once daily and should NEVER exceed two per day.  My first thought was that if people enjoyed reading our posts and they felt engaged in a way that made them want more, then why not deliver?  After putting it to the test, my hunch was proven correct and the number of people engaged with our organization through social media tripled over the next month.  Once in a while, the rules need to be challenged.

golf1a1-800Similarly, there are accepted standards and practices for fundraising, including a few protocols that have long been debated.  One of my faves is the do-or-don’t controversy involving the inclusion of remit envelopes with thank-you letters. In other words, when thanking a donor for a monetary gift, do you include an envelope as a way to subtly ask for even more money? Many non-profits do and, much to my surprise, I’ve seen it work time after time.  And then there are the theories about acquiring event sponsors.  Back in that social media seminar, we were told it was not a “best practice” to appeal for sponsors through social media (too impersonal, so they said)—so by those standards, I am now violating the rules by including a business proposal in a blogpost.  By the way, that rule has since been proven wrong , so there is no need to report me to the social media gestapo.  Since I didn’t win Powerball last night, it means I am unable to fork out a few million in charitable dollars for CCRP, so it’s back to shameless begging as a strategy.  And, with that, I’m asking for your help.  But you’ll enjoy it, it will satisfy your soul and if you opt to respond to my plea with at least a “maybe,” rest assured you will be offered a more personal approach involving coffee, lunch, a beer or just a casual conversation, all while among very charming and pleasant company.

So now that it has been established that no rules are being violated, here’s how you can help. Charitable golf tournaments are always popular, in part because players’ proficiency levels run the gamut, from highly skilled to “are you sure you’ve played this game before?”  It’s a day of fun with friends and colleagues, old and new, getting away from the office all day and doing it in a typically beautiful Colorado setting—all  while making a difference in the world.  It’s playtime for a cause.  So that brings me to the 10th annual Drive for a Cure, benefiting Colorado Cancer Research Program (CCRP). We would love to have you there.  Additionally, we need to expand involvement from the business community.  On Monday, May 23 at Valley Country Club in Centennial participants from all over metro Denver will come together for 18 holes of bogies and birdies, hazards and handicaps, all in support of a very important cause.  Starting right now, you can scoop up a foursome for your business, your golf pals or your organization.  And one more time—WE NEED SPONSORS.  I like to ask people to look at it from a slightly different perspective: that it’s a win-win for everyone.  Your company benefits by getting involved with an organization as important as CCRP and by doing something that truly matters.  And you benefit by having your soul satisfied.  It’s a chance to be part of the team that will, one day soon, make history as we finally achieve the ultimate goal of a cure for cancer.

Aside from your soul being immensely satisfied, there are some rather nice perks involved, in fact too many to list individually here.  Suffice it to say that sponsorships include foursomes, impressive promotional and marketing opportunities (who doesn’t love their company logo prominently displayed on a billboard at a high-traffic location in metro Denver?), fun freebies and so much more. Plus, it’s a great way to network your business, to court potential new clients, to thank current clients or to reward staff for jobs well done—and to be able to say, “We’re helping to cure cancer.  What did you do today?”  You can’t put a price tag on that.

To become involved with Drive for a Cure, for sponsorship details or to find out more information, please give me a call at 720.475.5740 or you can shoot me an email here. If you’d like to make a donation to CCRP, click here.

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The Twenty-Five Buck Conundrum

bylineWe’ve all experienced it, that puzzling quest to figure out how we could have possibly gone through twenty-five bucks so quickly.  As you backtrack in your mind, you begin to realize that it was spent mostly on non-essentials that aren’t even significant enough to register in your memory.  Those quick stops at the neighborhood convenience are enough of a menacing pickpocket to my wallet.  I’m sure you know the drill…you run in for just one item, but you get sucked in by those little things that catch your eye before you’re able to escape with just the snack you originally stopped to get.  The lottery scratch tickets are the worst.  I often wonder if they possess some ethereal, controlling powers that not only force me to get one, but to get at least three—along with two Lotto and one Powerball quick-picks because it somehow doesn’t make sense to buy just one scratch ticket.  Of course, my hopes for instant wealth are always dashed upon the discovery that each ticket is a loser.

Before I know it, twenty-five bucks is gone and I repeatedly have to wrack my brain to figure out where it went.  I know I’m not alone in this.  I’ve often commiserated with friends over this and while the specifics and the amount for each of us may vary, the outcome is the same.  Even after sharing tips on how to be more frugal, we’ve come to the conclusion that the weekly conundrum of the disappearing twenty-five dollars is simply one of life’s many enigmas, much like the one sock that is apparently sucked into the black hole of the laundry universe shortly after it enters the dryer.

I realize I am not the penny-pincher my mother was.  That woman was the champ of frugality and could have easily settled the national debt in the course of an afternoon.  But I’m also not at all cavalier with my finances.  On the contrary, I try to keep a relatively balanced budget and I set aside a fixed, disposable amount each week—but it’s usually gone in record time.  So it occurred to me that most of us would feel much more satisfied with the disappearance of that money if we knew it went to something more meaningful.

I don’t hide the fact that my passion for Colorado Cancer Research Program (CCRP) is derived in large part from losing my mom to cancer and the ensuing determination that I would somehow avenge her death, almost as if I were relentlessly hunting down an at-large assassin.  And in a way, I am.  The advancements and breakthroughs that stem from the work done at CCRP are unprecedented.   The result is that people are living longer, more lives are being saved and we are closer to a cure than ever before.  So, of course, I’m sold on the mission of CCRP.  If you haven’t already—and harsh as it may be to hear— odds are that you will experience a loved one battling cancer at some point in your life and the war against cancer will become a cause in which you, personally, have a vested interest.  So it begs the question:  isn’t that something worth supporting now—with— oh, say, twenty-five bucks?

Of all the success stories I’ve heard here at CCRP, there’s one touches me more than any other.  It involves Nicholas, a six year-old boy whose father passed away four months after being diagnosed with an aggressive cancer that attacked and spread quickly.  After that, there was no gray area for marie4Nicholas.  Cancer of any kind meant death.  Three years later, his mother got the devastating news that she had stage 2 ovarian cancer. When the time came to tell her son, it didn’t matter that her oncology team was optimistic about treatment options; it didn’t matter that she had been enrolled in a promising clinical trial through CCRP and they had every reason to hope for a successful outcome. Throughout her treatment protocols, Nicholas remained doubtful and hopeless, certain he would be an orphan before too long.  A year after her CCRP treatments began, she heard two of the most incredible words she could imagine: full remission.  The unforgettable moment when she shared the miraculous news with her son is difficult to adequately put into words, as his deepest fears were shattered and his entire outlook on life suddenly changed.  It’s a moment I recall whenever I’m having a bad day.  It puts things into perspective and makes me remember what’s important.  And it’s a moment I often think of when I’m feeling frustrated about the missing twenty-five bucks.

Next Tuesday is Colorado Gives Day, the annual event presented by Community First Foundation to celebrate charitable giving and to raise funds for approximately 1,200 non-profit organizations.  It’s a day that can make or break some organizations, and for others, it’s a day that can be the deciding factor on whether or not a necessary program is added or whether or not additional clients can be served.  It’s just one day.  And for that one day, I’d like to issue a challenge—to take that $25 you would otherwise spend on meaningless friffle (one of my mom’s invented words) and use it to make a difference. Give it to any one of the nearly 1,200 Colorado Gives Day charities.  Of course, I’m going to suggest you give it to Colorado Cancer Research Program.  But regardless, the challenge is to take that twenty-five bucks—or more—and help make your corner of the world a better place.  It will make you feel good—and you’ll have no trouble remembering what you did with this particular twenty-five bucks.

So there it is—my holiday challenge to you.  I’m hoping that, next Tuesday, you’ll include CCRP on your charitable giving list.  In my last blog post, I mentioned something my mom used to say that has been one of my guiding principles for life: “Nothing feels quite as good as knowing you’ve made a difference.” Today, let’s make a difference.

The Twenty-Five Buck Conundrum – By Dave Sevick

Go to coloradogives.org/ccrp and follow the instructions to give. And you don’t have to wait until Dec. 8.  You can pre-schedule your donation today.  It’s that simple.