Friday, October 15, 2010

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Confessions of a Donation Seeker

I hoped being a mother would make me fearless knowing how readily I would give up my life for Cati. I hoped growing up in Miami would make me feel comfortable talking to its people. I hoped my excitement over Cupcake Camp Miami would infect those around me. I was wrong.

Sort of.

My excitement is palpable and trust me when I say I have talked the heads off of some of the bakers I've spoken to either on the phone or in person. So I'd like to think my excitement is easily felt by those who are willing to hear me out.

Where I falter is in my attempts to get donations. I remember when I first joined my sorority I had to try to get donations or advertisements for our annual fashion show  (if I remember correctly all new members had to do this). I approached a few businesses (meaning: one), got discouraged by the response, and didn't even attempt to reach out to anyone else. Instead, I did the easiest thing I could think of: I turned to my mom and asked her to buy ad space for her husband's business and I bought ad space myself (the only reason my face shows up in that year's fashion show program!). It's a lot easier asking family than it is asking complete strangers.  Plus, we have different last names so no one really knew the business owner was actually married to my mom. And the point was to sell two ads and I did. Who cares the source, right?

Now I'm in that same position again except now it means more to me. Which means it hurts more when I get rejected. As a result, I'm a nervous wreck and I don't even know how to approach people. Do I go in and risk getting looked at like "what are you thinking wasting MY time?" Do I call and risk getting put on hold for eternity while they search for someone who will not feel bad turning me down? Do I email and risk the mental anguish of not knowing if someone read and received my email? What's the preferred method of communication when it comes to this? I've tried all three approaches and have gotten mixed results.

Then there's the issue of who to approach. How do you know who would be most likely to donate something? I read somewhere that the key is to approach everyone because oftentimes it's the person you think of as being the least willing to donate that ends up being the most eager.

So I'm clueless and the complete opposite of fearless. I get butterflies every time I try to make contact with someone.  What if they kick me out? Report me? Scoff at me? You'd think after a few attempts the fear of approach would diminish but it doesn't. To the contrary, it increases because I take mental notes of how the interaction went and try to adjust my approach before speaking with the next person. As a result, every interaction is new. And let's not forget that each person I interact with is also different.

Where does this leave me then? In pretty much the same place except now I know that if I'm ever in the position where people would want a donation from my business I will make sure I'm reachable and approachable.

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