Struggling to Ask for Money? Think Thin Mints!

November 7, 2012

Do you have a Girl Scout in your life?  A little sister, maybe a niece, who puts on a uniform, knocks on doors, and sells shocking amounts of Thin Mints?

Why do I ask?  Well, besides the fact that I was at my social peak as a Brownie, I want us to remember how easy it used to be for us to ask for money.  As kids we never hesitated to set up a lemonade stand and ask everyone to buy our product. 

So what happened?  When did we grow up and become shy?  I’m not sure when it happened for me, but I knew that once I became the California Director of Young Invincibles that had to change.  Part of my new job is convincing funders that the work YI does—amplifying the voices of the Millennial generation, and engaging in research, policy work and education around economic issues facing this population—is worth the investment.

I didn’t know it, but I was going to get a crash course on this starting on my second day.  I signed up for Los Angeles Social Venture Partners’ Social Innovation Fast Pitch.  This competition (we won!) required participants to develop a three-minute pitch for judges and funders at the end.  What I learned during the 6-week process helped me get my cookie-selling groove back:

  1. If you don’t ask for it, you can’t get it:  As a kid, we couldn’t just make the lemonade in our kitchen and expect it to sell itself.  Our parents’ generosity only went so far.  We had to put up our stand and get out there. How did we do it?  We asked! As adults, if we’re doing good work we believe in, we have to get out there! Set up meetings, knock on doors, create a buzz, and ASK.
  2. Be you: As kids we aren’t trying to be anyone other than our adorable selves.  The same should be true when asking for money as an adult.  Sure, be professional. You’ll get a million messages about what to say and how to say it.  But also be yourself.  LASVP’s Fast Pitch program was fantastic at helping participants find their voice and do what made us comfortable.
  3. That’s what friends are for: When we’re kids, we have no problem asking our playground buddies to have their parents buy a box of cookies. Through LASVP, I got a chance to talk to other non-profits that were pitching and plan ways for our organizations to work together.  Coaches served as mentors and connected me to other foundations. Finally, the whole process was a way to expose YI to the LA community.  Don’t be afraid to ask for a meeting or an e-troduction. That’s what friends are for!

One last bit advice: check out the LASVP program! The lessons you learn will last a lifetime, boost your confidence, and propel your organization to the next level!

Thanks for reading, Tamika

 Tamika Butler is the California Director of Young Invincibles

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