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Contributing Author
5 min
fundraising with Mama Hope

Why I Quit My Job to Fundraise

This is a guest post by Katie Remy, who recently completed Mama Hope’s Global Advocate Program. She successfully raised over $20,000 and partnered with community leaders to implement sustainable projects in Tanzania. She currently works for Glorious, a holistic community development organization that invests in the vision of strong leaders to build sustainable communities.

I’m sitting at my desk with my hand on my mouse, hovering over the “send” button. It has been in this same position for the past 20 minutes, completely still as I reread my farewell email over and over again. For the past two months, I’ve been telling everyone in sight that I’m leaving, but there’s no way I’ve reached all 1,000 employees at the company. And as soon as I click send, everyone will know.

Deep breath. My heart is beating out of my chest, hand sweaty. Finally, I click send.

Hi all,

As many of you already know, my last day here is this Thursday.  I am so grateful to have learned so much from such a talented and motivated group of people. Thank you all for your camaraderie, guidance, and the experiences you shared with me over the past four-and-a-half years.

I am excited to share that I will be leaving for Tanzania at the beginning of February to work for four months alongside inspiring local leaders on sustainable, community-driven projects. Feel free to take a look at the link below if you are interested in learning more or would like to support these projects.

http://www.classy.org/KatieRemy

I wish you all the best in your current and future endeavors and I hope to keep in touch.

All the best,

Katie

Deep breath again.

Pause.

Within seconds, the responses—and donations—start rushing in.

This is why I quit my job to fundraise full time.

From a young age, I’ve always tried to do everything I could for those in need. Elementary school was filled with days selling raffle tickets to benefit less fortunate families within our community. Summers were spent swimming at the local pool to raise money for cancer research, prevention, and treatment. High school was raising money through penny drives and fundraising dinners to build a school in Nepal.

fundraising as a child
Fundraising as a child to benefit less fortunate families in our community.

Everything was a fundraiser. By the end of it, I hated asking people for money and had retired from fundraising. Or so I thought.

In college I volunteered through a few different clubs and discovered a new way to give back. Fundraising was no longer my strategy; direct engagement with the communities I wanted to help took its place. I discovered that when human connection was at the forefront of my actions, I was able to make a deeper and longer lasting impact.

fundraising with Mama Hope
President of Campus School Volunteers of Boston College, at our annual retreat.

After graduating from college I began a career at an asset management firm, and although the work had little to do with my extracurriculars  from college, it aligned well with my business degree and offered a fast-paced, ever-changing environment in which I was thriving. I was fueled by the opportunity to meet and connect with new people each day, to continue to learn and to take on more and more responsibilities as I grew within the team.

But something was missing. With each passing year the desire to use my skills to give back to others grew stronger and stronger. And when I heard about Mama Hope’s Global Advocate Program, I felt that this opportunity might be the perfect way to make my impact.

A New Turn

When I started researching the Global Advocate Program, I had reservations about applying because of the $20,000 fundraising commitment. Prior to applying, I met with two Mama Hope staff members who assured me that Advocates go through rigorous fundraising training, personalized to each Advocate’s situation. The staff members are also with us 100 percent of the way. I decided to take a deep breath and a leap of faith and applied.

Fast forward to the Global Advocate Program five-day orientation. My cohort is being led through countless fundraising sessions. I had already learned a lot of the information through my previous fundraising experience and found myself looking for something more. Then we started talking about our “Why”.

mamahope-katie-remy
With Alice, Mama Pelis, Mama Faith, and fellow Global Advocate Barbara during a partner visit to Arusha, Tanzania.

Why did you choose to become a Global Advocate? Why did you quit your job to participate in this program? And why do you believe in this work, and your ability to do it? Friends, family, and colleagues asked me these questions frequently, but I never had a good answer for them. I found that I typically answered by explaining “What” I was going to do, rather than “Why” I wanted to do it.

During training we were first asked to talk about our “Why.” We were asked to write it out into a one to two minute story and then later recite it to the group. This was tough. With a shaky voice and some tears along the way, I shared and felt relieved when my turn was finally over.

But each time we told our stories, it got easier. And each time I told my story, I understood more and more why they were making us do this. As someone who had trouble articulating why I chose to join the Global Advocate Program and fundraise for a community that I hadn’t even met yet, this was great practice for me. It prepared me for the impending questions I would eventually get from my network.  

The Impact of “Why”

At the end of orientation, we set up our fundraising pages on Classy. We were instructed to try to weave in our “Why” into the main story of our pages. We would first explain “Why” we are doing this work. Then we’d end with “How” we would go about doing it and “What” our impact would be.

After orientation I went back to my day-to-day life, but with a renewed sense of confidence in fundraising. I found that people were genuinely interested in what I was doing, but more specifically wanted to know “Why” I was doing it. This time around, I was more than ready to answer this question. Conversations  in which I could share my “Why” were my most effective fundraising tool. Much more effective than the typical approaches I had tried before.

By directly reaching out to friends, family, and colleagues through email, social media, and my Classy page, I helped my network truly understand my story, the story of the community I was raising funds for, and how we are all intertwined.

Now, back to that farewell email.

I had expected positive feedback, but nothing compared to the overwhelming amount of support and well wishes I received. Colleagues thanked me for inviting them to be part of these projects. They also exchanged stories with me about similar experiences and put me in touch with connections within their personal networks. Through newsletters and updates on my Classy page, my supporters were able to follow along on my journey and feel connected to my work. I suddenly felt closer to my colleagues than I ever had before.

“The Tanzania project is inspiring for us all.”

“Congrats. That’s an admirable role. You got out of the rat race, lucky you!”

“Wow—that sounds fabulous…it is truly an eye opener to visit other countries and it reinforces the vague understanding most of us have in that we are very privileged to enjoy the quality of life we do in the U.S.” 

“I have such a high respect and appreciation for you in doing this.”

“This is the best farewell email ever.”

“Very proud of you and feel great to be involved (albeit minimally at best) in helping these folks.”

I quit my job because I wanted to pursue my passion of connecting with others to create positive, sustainable change. Mama Hope gave me the opportunity to go to Tanzania and partner with inspiring, game-changing community leaders. What I didn’t know was what else would come from quitting my job: discovering a whole new way to effectively connect with donors and pursue fundraising by speaking my truth, my “Why.”

Because of this shift in my relationship with fundraising, I created a bond and shared interest with everyone who donated to my projects. I found a whole new level of human connection that I didn’t even know existed. Now that I knew this kind of fundraising is possible, I was happy to come out of my fundraising retirement.

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