June 19, 2009

Asking Discomfort

Posted in Life tagged , , , , , , , , , at 8:59 pm by lindaslongview

I was raised to be very self-sufficient and to (mostly) avoid debt, so it is difficult for me to ask.

Recently, I joined my son in “picking a fight against cancer.” We are both participating in the 2009 LiveStrong Challenge.  We will each fundraise and run a 5k.  LiveSTRONG2009My son is the LiveStrong veteran.  He raised >$1000 as part of his 7th grade charity project.  No matter the confidence that I have with the cause, fundraising feels to me like asking for a favor.

To overcome my discomfort with fundraising, I started slowly.  I selected ten (10) friends to solicit.  I prepared a “base email” and customized salutations appropriate to each friend.  I sent these requests out over several days, burying the requests for support amongst a brief personal update, shameless promotion of my blog, and photos of my son.  Was it the right balance?….

I did not get many quick responses.  My confidence waned!  After several days, I received a response indicating that my email had been caught in a spam folder (apparently, having several links causes susceptibility to spam filters).  After follow-up emails to the remaining nine (9), I discovered that six (6) of the messages had been caught in spam filters.  Whew!  My confidence was restored.

The asking tension is in give vs. take of reciprocal behaviors.  We give to preserve/nurture relationships (long view).  We take (make requests of others) to meet goals.  Although this is true both professionally and personally, the medium of exchange makes these transactions quite different.  Professional exchanges have market norms; PAY fulfills the transaction.  Personal/civic exchanges have social norms; RECIPROCITY fulfills the transaction. Boundaries and expectations are well defined for professional exchanges and I have tons of experience, so it is much easier to conduct those transactions. My instincts tell me that for personal/civic exchange, creating personal boundaries consistent with my principles and behaviors is the right direction.  For me, this means nurturing personal connection with each solicitation for LiveStrong.

To date, I have raised $70 out of $200 goal for LiveStrong.  Leave me a comment if you want to donate to my effort and I’ll send you the link.  ☺

In the meantime, I will continue to gain experience through practice, practice, practice (does that mean that I’ll “get to the Carnegie Hall” of fundraising?!)

Do you have advice for me to strengthen my ability to ask?

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