Wednesday, April 22, 2009
That they yelled at me didn’t bother me. On occasion I listened to heavy metal rock. The rejection bothered me. Was it what I was wearing? Was it the style of my hair? Was it something I said? I asked for donations over the phone, so the first two questions don't apply. Regardless of my solicitation method, the rejection born from these encounters deflated my once ballooned confidence. The following reminders helped me find the motivation to seek donations once again. And so now, I recommend them to you.
1) Some people are rude. Period. They're rude to their mothers, their friends, their dog and their parakeet. It is no surprise they're rude to strangers. Take comfort in the predictability of their behavior. The phrase, "It's not you, it's me," is, for once, true.
2) Some small businesses are not used to donation requests. Employees have a defensive reaction to this rare occurrence—they think it is a scam. Fair enough. Then it may be better to ask for a donation in person, rather than over the phone. Bring any paperwork that will establish your legitimacy—tax forms, pre-written donation request letter on a letterhead, business card, etc. But chain businesses are used to donation solicitors. It may be better—and more respectful of the business manager's time—to call him or her before your visit to set up a meeting time.
3) Often enough, your request for donations will be met with the response "No. " Be proud of yourself for having the determination to overcome the mountain you are climbing, no matter how many boulders are in your path. And always remember these words from The Great One, the hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, "You miss 100-percent of the shots you don't take." I won’t try to relate the mountain metaphor to the Wayne Gretzky quote, so I leave you with this instead. When you ask for donations you are “selling” your organization’s purpose, but more so you are selling yourself. To establish yourself as respectable and legitimate to strangers is a skill you need to be successful in your professional (and personal) life. Seeking donations is an opportunity to strengthen it. And so is writing blog entries. Did I establish myself as respectable and legitimate? If I did, then you accepted my advice. And if you used it, I hoped it helped. Good luck.
Carlos Livingston is an AmeriCorps State Lead at Generations Incorporated. You can e-mail him at CLivingston@GenerationsInc.org.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Each morning, while most of my peers at Generations head out to their respective schools to begin programming, I make the commute to our downtown office to get some work done before my site begins at 2:30. I am one of four AmeriCorps coordinators serving at an after-school site, and I think that all of us can agree that we operate in a very different world from that of the school-serving corps members. One of the differences is that our afternoon schedules afford us the time to visit school sites during the morning and become ever more aware that the after-school environment is a world of its own. Last week, on a suggestion from my supervisor, I used one of my mornings to visit the Blackstone Elementary School in the South End in order to get a better feeling for how different sites run.
I have spent time at schools all throughout my year of service; in particular, I visit the
Jessie Kunhardt is an
Thursday, April 9, 2009
A day in the life in October…. I step into a classroom in my green polo and kids cower and hide their faces. “I don’t want to come with you!” “I don’t like reading.” “This is going to be boring.” It was rough convincing these tough kids that they would have fun coming down to read and that their cool and caring Experience Corps reading coaches were not working with them as a punishment, but were there to be supportive and to have an enjoyable time together.
A day in the life in April…. I step into a classroom in my green polo and kids jump into my path. “Is it me today?” “How come you never pick me to come read?” “Can I come with him/her?” I come up at the end of sessions and hear, “I don’t want to go back yet.” “How about 5 more minutes?” or, “Just a couple more pages?” Ah, the joy it brings to my heart not to have to convince them every day that I am friend not foe. And even those who are still a bit skeptical at the beginning of each session, once they get going with their reading coach, never want to leave.
I’ll bring it down from the broad spectrum to the personal and talk about one student in particular. I have the privilege of getting to read with this sweet student and now I get to see his smiling face most of the time. At the beginning of the year it was literally quite the opposite, he would cry when it was time for him to come read with Generations. The transition was stressful for him and he felt uncomfortable leaving the classroom. Once his teacher and I figured out that this was his difficulty we switched to reading right outside the classroom and slowly worked our way down to the library (where we hold the majority of our reading coaches sessions). Now he comes down with that beautiful smile lighting up his face. His ability to feel comfortable in the environment we provide lends to him being able to make much more progress in his reading. His comfort level in regard to his atmosphere has led to a new confidence in his reading and gives him something to feel proud of. Working with him is now a delight and his excitement and enthusiasm about the stories we read make his smiles contagious.
I see the same story occurring between each of the students and their Generations reading coaches at the
Meghan MacLean is an