When a major fundraising campaign begins, one of the first tasks is to find leaders who can take on the tremendous challenge of seeing it through to the end. The question around the table is: Who will find this cause worthy enough to volunteer, knowing there will be challenges, frustrations and disappointments—along with the unbelievable joy, accomplishment and excitement that comes with knowing lives will be changed?
Fresh on my mind is an organization called Mi Esperanza. The first major campaign in their organization’s history is underway. When the campaign planning began, board chair Julie Lawson and co-founder and CEO Janet Hines were looking for campaign leaders. They are both long-time, tireless volunteers and donors who exemplify the power of philanthropy.
It didn’t take long for them to discover that the leaders they were looking for were looking at them in the mirror. They had already been leaders in many regards, but fundraising—especially major gift fundraising—was new to them and the organization.
They may not have realized it at the time, but they already had what it takes to lead a major campaign. Julie and Janet listen, follow through and inspire others. They meet almost daily to discuss fundraising. They hold each other accountable. Last time we met, Julie admitted she goes to sleep every night with the weight of the organization’s financial wellbeing on her shoulders. In other words, they care—genuinely and deeply.
Today, with the campaign team they have recruited, campaign co-chairs Julie and Janet have exceeded every fundraising goal. Under their leadership, their plans include raising millions to purchase a permanent building, sustain the organization’s programs and build a solid future for Mi Esperanza through estate gifts.
For every leader, there was a day—a moment in time—when we realized we were the leader we were looking for. Though doubt may push back against us at times, we remind ourselves we have what it takes to show up, work a plan, inspire, connect, motivate and persevere. Because, first and foremost, we genuinely, deeply care.
And if we’re fortunate, we also sleep well, knowing lives are better, because we didn’t look the other direction when opportunity tapped us on the shoulder. That’s the power of philanthropy.
Karin Cox, MFA
President and Co-Founder