Sometimes you have a good idea and you aren’t sure why others don’t get on board right away. It gets frustrating for some because they realize that the idea of “if you build it, they will come” does not hold up very well in reality. In fact what becomes more true is that if you build it they will probably ignore you, until you promote it. Promotion and branding is the difference between success and failure these days. Facebook and Twitter and hashtags (whatever those are) are a must if you want to be heard. But it certainly wasn’t always like this.
When I started working in non-profit about 14 years ago when I was still a teen, I would watch bosses go to a funder with a great idea (or in some instances a mediocre one) and walk out with a check. You could tell the government that your organization has the capacity to do something and they would say ok, sounds good, start billing us. Of course I am simplifying but my point is that it was a lot easier to get a program off the ground then than it is now. There are pluses and minuses to that. A plus is that now you have to really be focused and dedicated to your cause to get funded in addition to having a proven track record of dedication. A minus is that the people who already have tons of time and maybe even a little money will be able to convince people of their dedication a little easier.
For me the challenge is that I have to learn to toot my own horn at this level, that of Executive Director, which I am not accustomed to. I am someone who believes that actions speak louder than words. You can say anything you want about who you are. You can tell the entire world that you are all about charity, but the proof is in what you do, not what you say. If someone can’t be bothered with actually volunteering or supporting a cause with a few bucks then how can they be considered charitable? You have to take action to be credible and it’s as simple as that. And for the last several years I have been taking action and putting myself out there through my non-profit work to see if my words and deeds can help people. I was the first black dad blogger in the world to identify himself as a daddy blogger five years ago (if there is someone else who can claim that feel free to step forward because I looked for months before I started my blog and I didn’t find you!). But I don’t stop there. I have given cash to food charities, I have donated my car, furniture and clothes to charity, I support my son’s school fundraisers and I started this non-profit. If I’m not being a dad and doing the work I have been called to do, then I am nothing.
Yet and still the work and the effort doesn’t speak for itself. You have to be able to speak to your own work and your own effort. If you are lucky others will also support you and speak of your successes with energy and enthusiasm on your behalf and I have indeed been lucky in that regard. I have had encouragement from people who believe in me and the work I do and that is the kind of thing that sustains a non-profit effort with a non-existent budget!