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Putting the Fun in Fundraising

10.19.2009

At The Alexander Group we encourage our employees to reach beyond their boundaries, give, and have fun. The following is one employee's experience in trying to achieve these three goals.


Five years ago, just a few months after I'd made a career move to The Alexander Group, I attended my 5th college reunion at Hollins University in beautiful Roanoke, Virginia. A relaxing weekend filled soaking in the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains and congregating over cocktails with classmates and fellow alumnae brought with it-for me-a huge responsibility.

During the course of one of our gatherings, we began to make plans for our 10th reunion. The first order of business was selecting a Reunion Chair and Reunion Gift Chair. I'm not sure what possessed me to throw my hat in the ring that day, perhaps nostalgia for the days when leadership roles were as natural to me as making my first cup of coffee in the morning. Or possibly, a less altruistic reason, that second cocktail and the fact that two others had decided to run for Reunion Gift Chair as well, and at least I could feel that I'd tried to contribute even if I was ultimately not elected to the post. But as luck would have it, I was elected. After the haze of the weekend had worn off, while on my way back home to Houston, I had a moment of "what have I gotten myself into?" but for the most part, I was able to psych myself into believing that I could do it. Never mind the fact that I had absolutely no experience fundraising. After all, I had just successfully mastered a high learning curve at The Alexander Group in an industry that had previously been completely foreign to me. And it didn't hurt that I had four years before I would be faced with this new responsibility.

But my how those four years have flown.

2010 is fast-approaching and along with it, my 10th reunion. The task of raising money in the midst of a recession seems more than a little daunting. With many classmates and/or their spouses facing economic challenges, it occurred to me that I have somewhat of an out.

Certainly no one expects a record shattering figure from 161 women who are just entering their early thirties, during a time when many of us are still paying off loans from graduate school, starting families and I can blame the economy, right?

Sure.

But I have never made a practice of shying away from a challenge, so I looked at this as an opportunity to stretch and grow. Having never raised money on this level before, I really had no idea what to expect, so I relied on skills that have served me well in my professional life: research, organization, teamwork, networking... Proficiencies that are fostered in daily work life at TAG are the very skills that I believe will help me lead my class to meeting-and possibly surpassing-a recordsetting goal.

At the start of the summer, I reached out to the Director of Class Giving, and together we formulated a plan of attack. With her help, I put together a committee of classmates, pulling people from various social circles within our class. The next step was to set a monetary goal because ideally, the goal for
participation should always be 100%. Upon learning that the class of 1999 raised $6,000 for their 10- year reunion, I decided that my class-the class of 2000-could do better. Much better. I knew that we needed a number that would bring out the competitive streak that runs deep in the heart of my class. The only way to approach this challenge was to push aside the negative-all the little voices saying that this isn't a good year to ask people to give money-and focus on the goal. And what better goal than beating a record? In 2004, the class of 1994 set the record for giving in the 10th year with a class gift of $32,198. In a time when charitable giving is down, it would be a real coup to shatter that record.

With the planning and organizing phases of this campaign mapped out, outreach is the next step. The first solicitation letter has been drafted and sent out to classmates, and over the next several months, my committee and I will make personal contact with each and every member of our class. The campaign has really just begun, but already I feel such a sense of accomplishment. The adage that giving makes you feel good really is true. Taking on this responsibility has reminded me that sometimes, we must step outside of our comfort zones and create our own challenges in life-whether that means making a career change, setting a personal goal, or reaching out and volunteering. Continual learning is not only vital to personal growth, but it also brings with it a natural high that floods into every aspect of one's life.

As of this posting, 64% of the financial goal has been met with eight months left in the campaign. 

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