Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Operation Silver Swan or How to Ask for Smarties

Two and a half days with no shower, no make up, not even a blow dryer to try and keep the hair in control and it was the most rewarding presentation I've ever made.

Let me explain:

My organization has just added a youth council. This youth council is going to provide us all with the environmental leaders of tomorrow. These guardians of nature or Nature Guardians as we call them gathered to determine their objectives and organize themselves. The adults simply provided a little guidance and presented various opportunities for consideration. That is what last weekend was all about. Five adults and eighteen teenagers camped out at the Toronto Zoo to laugh together and learn from each other.

My session was of course on fundraising. When the Nature Guardians decide on their goals, they will need to find the resources to implement their project. The session covered six essentials:

1. Have a clear statement of work. (Be able to tell people what you do)
2. Demonstrate Impact. (tell a good story of change)
3. Have a simple clear goal.
4. Go where the money is.
5. ASK!
6. Say Thank You!

It was also very special for me personally because my daughter co presented with me and talked about what she learned from Balaal Rajan in his book Making Change. She was a natural and could have confidently presented the entire session. A proud mommy moment indeed!

This blog is really about how the teens responded to number five. ASK! I had some small packages of Smarties and threw them at about half the kids whenever someone said something really 'smart'. After they ate the first round, I was more specific about my directions and replenished their supply. I then ended the session by giving them a task - at some point in the next 24 hours, those who didn't have Smarties would have to approach those who did and convince them to 'donate' the Smarties to the Nature Guardians program. I had extras and if they were really brave they could approach me for a 'Major Gift'.

The following morning I had to admit (as discussed during the session) that perhaps my 'innovative' idea, wasn't a very good one for I still had a mountain of chocolate to give away. I set the Smarties aside and we carried on with other workshops. (or so I thought) That morning the Nature Guardians sprung into action and launched what will be forever called Operation Silver Swan.

At lunchtime I was ambushed. You can see 'Operation Silver Swan' here:

These teens are amazing. I promised them I'd share this story on my blog and I'm proud to do it. It would be really great if a couple of them will come forward and post their own comment here about what it was like to make an ask.

The enthusiasm and commitment of these future leaders is contagious and I look forward to working with them to find funding for the programs they decide to pursue.

This was without a doubt the most rewarding presentation I've ever made.

Thank you for spending time here.

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