365 days. 586 individual donors. $737,980 raised. 737 people impacted. Lifetime Impact of 10,706.
Without a shadow of a doubt, the work I am doing at Skid Row Housing Trust is some of the most challenging I have ever done in my life. The last 365 days has tested me in unimaginable ways. Establishing myself in a new city, attempting to build an individual donor system from scratch, raising money toward ambitious goals, and keeping our residents at the forefront of my mind, have all provided lessons that I will take with me wherever I go. Beyond the numbers and the day-to-day tasks, Skid Row Housing Trust has provided ample leadership lessons; lessons that shaped and will shape me for some time to come. If you will indulge me, I would like to share a few of those now.
Be Prepared for the Unexpected
When I joined the Trust, I joined three other fundraising professionals with the ambition of adding a volunteer coordinator that I would supervise. After spending six years as an office of one at Kent Youth and Family Services, I relished the opportunity to be a part of a team. I envisioned working on events together, joint asks and building a department with people committed to the same ideas. Then, out of nowhere, two of my fellow employees moved onto other positions at different nonprofits and another went on leave. All of sudden, our team of five was a team of two and some mighty expectations fell in my lap. While I haven’t done a perfect job, I am proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish with such limited resources. I have learned a lot about emergency planning and my own bandwidth. I have also shifted my expectations for work and where I find fulfillment. I am grateful for these lessons and will hold them forever.
Use Your Voice
When you reach a director/managerial role, there is a shift in the way people see you. I was hired for my fundraising expertise and an ability to create philanthropic systems. I am by no means the world’s greatest fundraiser, but I understand this work. For my first few months at the Trust, I was too bashful about defending my decisions and using my knowledge to back up what I believe to be true. Some of that was being new and some of that was a desire to find my place. In the chaos of the last six months, I have grown more confident and willing to use my voice. I have also learned to lean on those who don’t often speak up in meetings. Over and over again, I find unmatched wisdom in those who observe.
Be Patient/Be Persistent
“Rome wasn’t built in a day” is a tired cliché, but it holds true. Building an individual giving system for the Trust from the ground up has required patience for myself and my colleagues. There have been days filled with roadblocks and setbacks. There are days that have disappointed because things aren’t moving as fast as they should. In the past 12 months, I have learned a great deal about being patient and persistent at the same time. The idea of eliminating homelessness in Los Angeles County is too important to allow defeat and temporary failures to get in the way.
On the bad days, I try to continually remind myself of these things. They keep me motivated and pushing forward. I won’t make a career out of this work; my heart lies elsewhere, but I see a tremendous opportunity to leave a small legacy here at Skid Row Housing Trust. Something I can be proud of for years to come.
Be good to each other,
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