E12 – From news anchor to fundraiser with Sam Provenzano
In the episode this week I am speaking with Sam Provenzano.
Sam quit his job as a news anchor to become a fundraiser, raising money for sick children. His career has taken him many interesting places, and today he owns his own company – https://www.nextgenfundraisers.com/ – where he helps other fundraisers amongst other things.
Sam is also starting a new podcast: Your Philanthropic Journey with Sammy P debuts on Dec. 7. 2020
You can find the show notes further down on this page
Diana: Welcome to Fun with Fundraising I’m Diana Lund, your host. I am a small business owner, author, and speaker and in this podcast, I will be sharing interviews with interesting people. You will also hear my fundraising journey so you guys can follow along while I hit my 2021 goal. I’ll get back to after today’s episode. Let’s jump right in.
Today. I am talking with Sam who went from being a TV news anchor to being a fundraiser and I am so interested to hear more about this story, because that seems a bit odd to me, to be honest. So, I’m looking very much forward to hearing more about this. Thank you for being here, Sam.
Sam: Thank you so much for having me. It’s an honor. I mean, this is just the power of social media, you know, I saw what you were doing, and I was really inspired, and I think you saw what I was doing, and you were inspired. So, I really appreciate you taking the time just to talk with me from Chicago, Illinois.
Diana: Thank you. It’s amazing. So, tell us the story. How do you go from being a TV news anchor? Because I’m in my head, that’s big. From what I know from the US, that’s big. So, how do go from that to being a fundraiser? Not that fundraising is not big and that it can be, but…
Sam: Sure. Oh, you’re absolutely right. It was such a crazy ride. So, I went to university, Indiana University and after college, I went to be a news anchor. I studied to be a journalist. I love to hear stories. I love to be a part of the community. I love to talk. I love to listen, and I love to hear stories and capture those stories and build trust as a human being.
So, when you’re doing that as a reporter and some reporters don’t do that, but that’s how I trusted myself in that job. I felt like I was a good reporter, an ethical person, and also a funny guy. You’ve got to be yourself. But I was very young, and I just wasn’t at that time in my life. So, you know, I was very young. It was my first job out of college. So, I was a television news, anchor, and ABC station, but it was one of the smaller stations, but that’s what you do when you start out. I then interviewed a child from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital which is one of the biggest hospitals in the globe.
I got to work for them as an event marketing representative, a fundraiser because of a story that I did on a local child who ended up passing away from cancer. It motivated me to get out of that industry, but also that industry wasn’t necessarily meant for me, I loved it, but I actually just loved being on TV and having the popularity and having my face everywhere. Yes, it’s cool, but that’s when you’re 24, but when you grow up and you’re not doing what you love and you’re making not a lot of money.
I started out at $16,000 a year in the United States as a news anchor. So, it’s not that glorified job. However, if you stay in the business for 20 years, then you’re making millions and millions of dollars. So, I got out of the business because I knew it wasn’t for me. So, I had to listen, and I was angry. My personality just wasn’t who I wanted it to be and I recognized an opportunity to get out of the business and worked for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and I used those connections to get me my first job there in New York.
Diana: Cool. Okay. So, what was the pull here? What was the pull for getting into fundraising?
Sam: Yeah. You know, I knew that because I was a reporter. I knew that I loved people. I knew that I loved hearing stories and I knew that I liked to listen and get to know people and connect people and make them happy and I liked competition and fun and that’s philanthropy and we want that competition but that’s being a fundraiser. Those are skills that can transfer over to being in the nonprofit world. Yes, I can make it seem so easy on a resume, but it was very difficult to make that transition and a lot of people won’t admit that. For me, it was difficult, because, when you’re on TV, it’s all about you, you, you.
The station, my looks, my voice, my story. In philanthropy, if you’re doing it right in fundraising, if you’re doing it the right way, in fundraising, if you’re really being a human, that’s what you’re doing. So, I brought that over and I had to learn that it wasn’t all about me very quickly and then from there I did all the events. So, I didn’t just jump right into raising all those big monies with the donors and prospects. You kind of start out in this career doing the event side of things, or maybe even an entry-level gift officer, so you can build your way up. Let’s start with that. Let’s talk about St. Jude as the first job ever as a fundraiser because it was so much fun.
Diana: I have two questions on this, actually, because, well, it’s not on the St Jude’s specifically, but something you said it’s about competition. It got me thinking because they were saying like, oh, that might not be going over to when you talk fundraising, but doesn’t it? Because I’m when I think a lot of call centers that at least in Denmark, that is also doing fundraising and selling memberships for NGOs and charity. Then there is some kind of competition aspect within the workplace. So, is that the same in the States or is it motivation by competition?
Sam: It’s interesting. We’ve started to view in the last couple of years, fundraising the money. So, when someone gives to an organization what’s been happening is they’re not feeling treated. They’re not being stewarded correctly. They’re not being thanked properly. They’re asking for money. When they see them, that is not major gift fundraising. Now major gift fundraising in the United States is like $50,000 from one person all the way to a million or whatever.
Diana: Oh, my goal is going to be so easy then.
Sam: Yeah. As a participant, as a fundraiser, that’s okay to be competitive because you’re not in the environment. What I mean by competitive is treating a donor. A donor is someone who gives to an organization that’s like, you know, I want to hear their stories first especially the people that have given so much money to us already. What have we been doing to support them? If you are doing all this work at the MS Society in Denmark, I really hope that, that society has your back, and they understand what you’re doing and that there’s someone out there supporting you. That doesn’t happen sometimes or the person doing it is really bad.
So, you’re going to have some people that don’t get it. So, that’s great that you have your tribe, but there are millions of people out there in this industry that believe that being competitive and asking for the big bucks right away is somehow good and that’s very dirty especially when you’re asking someone for… Imagine if I asked you for one million dollars. That’s a big gift for you. It’s a big gift for almost for anybody, whether it’s 10,000 or a million dollars or $500. Who is supporting you? What are they providing you and are they thanking you? So then when you’re ready to give again, you’re going to give more.
So, that’s what you’re going to be doing. You’re doing this amazing thing for the MS Society. You can go out there and you show everyone where they can donate and be competitive. Do whatever you need to do. Doing little events on the side. Get all your friends together and sell something for $5 that can go to your team. Do a carwash for money that can go to your team. Sell face masks and for money and design them with your husband’s name on them or something and really tell a story for $5. That could all go to your fundraising. So, it’s really about telling your story.
So, you are the fundraiser. They want to hear your story and MS Society’s story. If they hear your stories, they will want to give or be involved. If you don’t tell those stories and you’re just asking them for money and you’re not getting to know them as a human in their heart, in their values, you know, eventually it’s going to go away. So, we’re starting to see people understanding that and COVID has changed that especially because life is too short. No-one’s going to talk to a sleazy, dirty money-hungry organization that is desperate for your money and they want it now.
That’s not the way to fundraise, but there’s a lot, there’s a lot of organizations doing that. That’s not how I lead. That’s not how philanthropy should be led, but that’s a conversation and you know, I would say probably 70% of people would agree with me, but I think 30% of the people either don’t want to agree with me or they have no idea.
Diana: But I’m thinking also that it’s a learning process. That you need to transition for what you did before, to what you’re doing now.
Sam: Absolutely. Making that transition from reporter to fundraiser. It’s really about hearing the stories. If I’m a donor at the MS Society, let’s say I go to their website. I want to make sure I know the story. I want to be able to click and contact them or get involved. I want to be invited to events. I want to be thanked. Can someone please thank me because there’s a lot of organizations that you’ll make big gifts to, and they never send a thank you or they’ll send you the simple little generic, thank you that everyone else gets. And you know what? That’s not going to fly anymore. You’ve got to stand out.
Diana: That makes really makes sense. I get the thank you part. I definitely get the thank you part and it’s actually something that I have decided that I need to get better at in general. Telling people thank you. Thank you for participating in the podcast. Thank you for donating to the cause. Thank you for all of these things. Just being genuine about also remembering to thank people for what they do for you because don’t take the things people do for you for granted.
Sam: Exactly. That’s kind of what I’m bringing to fundraising and that’s never really been talked about until the last couple of years by some other leaders, my mentors that have taught me and now I’m able to preach a little bit. I’m looking for a job, of course, but I’m able to help other fundraisers, help people like you and people are helping me. You’re helping me. We’re helping each other. So, it’s not Sam story. It’s our story and Denmark’s story and MS’s story, your husband’s story.
Diana: I’m curious on the other thing though, as well. So, you’re saying that you should also give back and could you give an example of that? Because I get the thank you part, but how do you give back? Because that’s where I’m, I don’t to say getting confused, but I’m trying to figure out. Okay. So, giving back is what. Is that the video updates? Is that the podcast updates or is that giving a calendar or what is the giving back part?
Sam: Sure. Giving back and showing who you are, that’s all of that. But I really think it’s just being a little vulnerable, sometimes. I also think that you know, we’re all learning together, so no, one’s really an expert in the COVID-19 era. We’re fundraisers, you’re fundraising as an individual for this amazing organization. I’m a professional fundraiser for 11 years, but I’m still learning and we’re still communicating. So, I might’ve gotten off track there with that question, but oh, oh, here’s the impact. They also want to see impact. Don’t ever forget that all that money that you’re getting, show us where it’s going.
Not you individually. That’s MS Society’s job. That’s my job as a professional fundraisers is to make sure that the donor or the organization giving to me knows the impact of their dollars and it can be fun. It’s like for every $10 given you’re helping a child in need and making sure that they see that, or because you gave me $1,000, we can now give this money to research at MS for someone in the upper East Side of Denmark or something like that, or however that works. It’s about impact and when a donor and someone, whether it’s me, you, anybody in this world, when they see that they’re making a difference by their giving, oh man, now there’s the secret sauce.
That’s the secret sauce to fundraising when they know they’re making a difference. They’re going to keep on giving and they’re probably going to give more if there’s someone like me as the fundraiser or the organization walking through. I’m getting up right now, walking on that philanthropic journey, the fundraising journey hand in hand. It’s not taking the donor, the big rich people and grabbing them and here donate to us because you got all this money. No, it’s tell us your story. Then sometimes they’re just not into us.
Sometimes they don’t have the money. Sometimes they don’t like the organization. Sometimes they don’t believe in whatever you’re doing. Sometimes they have all the money in the world, and they promise you something and they didn’t give you any. It’s going to happen. You’re going to get a lot of no’s as a fundraiser. It’s like dating. If you were dating someone on your first date and they asked you to marry you, you would be a little bit shocked and a little bit bewildered. If I’m a nonprofit leader and I’m sitting down at dinner for the first time with a donor and I asked them for a million dollars. I bet you they’re going to walk right out that table and they’ll never talk to me or the organization again. It’s just like dating.
Diana: How long is that process though? Let’s say that like for me, and I know this is a bit different because I’m at a place where I need to try and go out and find people who would like to connect with me and want to follow my journey and hopefully sponsor my goal as well. Because the other people I’ve interviewed telling me about fundraising as well, have been a lot of okay so when people are donating a small amount, then we take them from there. Okay. But how do we get people to donate that small amount?
Sam: Yeah. That’s my job. So, as a fundraiser in the United States, they call us major gift officers, philanthropy officers, directors of development, vice presidents of development and it’s also a fundraiser. So, it’s the same kind of thing, but I work one-on-one, and I’ve done this hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times, thousands of times, probably. I’m going to pretend to be you because I do what you do all the time. I fundraise for other organizations. So, let’s pretend to be you first. All right. I just, I’m going to send out some emails. I’m going to send some text messages with my link telling people my story with an option for them to donate.
Let’s say they donated. You want to make sure you call them. You thank them. Hey, thank you so much and a lot of them are your friends, so they’re donating because of you. But then there are going to be people that just donate a little bit and they’d be like, oh hey, thank you so much for your donation. What made you give? And they’ll be like, well, Diana, I really felt compelled by your story and I just wanted to join in. I don’t have a lot of money, but you know, here’s $25 and then you, and then, you know, if you need a volunteer, I can help. Then you tell that volunteer, hey, this is what I’m doing, and this is a team effort. Do you want to help me fundraise and join me on this ride? That could be an option and then after they give the $25.
Now let’s pretend I’m the professional fundraiser. So, now I’m, I’m seeing this. So, now let’s go to a donor on my end and I’ll tell you how this all connects. Thank you so much sir for your $500 donation. I really appreciate that. What made you give to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital? Why $500? That was your first gift and you’re writing that in an email in a certain way but you’re asking them and then a story comes usually. They’re like, well my son has cancer. Oh my gosh. I’m so sorry and then they’re telling you more about their work and then you’re like, hey, would you be open to having some coffee with me maybe in the next month, just to kind of hear more of your story and kind of tell you what’s going on here because what we’re doing at St. Jude is life-changing.
Then I go back into my data and I do my research, just like being a reporter. I’m looking to see where he works and oh, wow. He’s the President and CEO of one of the biggest companies in the world. So, he’s got millions of dollars, but just because he has millions of dollars, doesn’t mean he’s going to get them to us right now. He gave us $500. So, I’m going to take him for lunch. So, we go for lunch. I hear more of his story. I thank him again. Now, this is in person. So, he’s really getting to know me as a fundraiser, and we had a really good time. Then I go back to my office. I talk to my team, I say, hey, I had a really great meeting with this guy, and I think he’s got some potential.
He’s passionate. He’s got the capacity, the money to give if we motivate him. So, what’s our battle plan. Let’s do a plan. How do we motivate him? Well, his son was sick of cancer and the money and there’s an area in the hospital where that money will be directed to go towards people like his son. So, that’s my plan. So, there’s my plan and now you’re probably wondering, okay, Sam, how much are you going to ask him for? He went from 500. Are you going to ask him for $10,000? Are you going to ask him for $50,000? And this is a true story because this happens a lot.
So, a month passes. We have another meeting. I then tell them an update about what happened in that area that he gave. You know, that $500 I gave him a little update about, hey, this is what’s going on in this department and MS Society will do the same thing. So, you can talk to them about what I’m talking to you about. But that’s what they’ll do. But the process is about 12 to 18 months, sometimes three years to get $50,000, to get a million dollars to get those bigger gifts. So, it’s not transactional like a store when you get your change back. This is a big deal for the donor and it’s a big deal for the organization.
Never do it over the phone. If it’s a lot of money, in my profession now as a person I do, but as a fundraiser professionally, I don’t make asks in on the phone or on an email, unless it’s a very rare situation or we know each other or whatever. It’s in person. So, we’ll have a coffee, and you get nervous. It gets scary as a fundraiser because you’re asking someone that you’ve gotten to know over the last three years, two years, they know who you are. They know your story, they know the organization and they are ready because I know as you know, it’s a fundraising and they know because you’ve been working with them. We can be at the next level and I asked him can I put together a proposal for you for X amount of dollars? Are we at that point in our discussion? And he said, yes and then I went back in, I put, I did all the things and yes, $100,000.
Diana: What would be in a proposal? Because I’m thinking is that then what the money would go to?
Sam: Yes. It’s just like a contract, basically and I don’t do that. There’s usually grant writers or people that write the agreement for you. They have a team that does that and then all they have to do is sign it. It’s just a pledge and a pledge is just a promise. So, I don’t know if anyone knows this in your audience, or I didn’t know this either until many years ago, but when someone says they pledge $50 million. That’s not $50 million coming in all at once. It’s usually over many, many, many, many years. It’s an endowment. It’s what they call it and that money, that’s a promise. They don’t have to continue to give that money.
So, there’s nothing that can say now it doesn’t look good as the donor. You don’t want it, but it happens. It does happen. They won’t pay that pledge off because maybe they messed up. Maybe they weren’t using their money correctly the way they were supposed to in the agreement and the donor gets mad. But what I just took you through is something I’ve done for a good eight years is calling and emailing, anything I can do to get a hold of that. That’s even harder just to say thank you and get them to have coffee with me.
I need to know as a major gift officer, as a fundraiser, professionally that I’m working with the right people that have the money but don’t necessarily have the knowledge of what we’re doing, or they love us, and they don’t know about us yet. So, it’s really about just really that and then there are people as well, Diana, that create a list for you to reach out to. I don’t do that at the big universities.
So, the MS Society, there’s a list that they are going at that they get as fundraisers of about 300 or 50 people or 75 people and it’s my job to start calling right away and thanking and learning, and then doing coffee, doing lunch, bringing them to a sporting event, going to the movies. Well, that’s a little weird. I don’t go back on my words. Playing golf. I play tennis with my donors. I’ve been to the Phoenix Suns basketball games. I’ve been to funerals. I’ve been to weddings.
Diana: Excuse me, funerals?
Sam: Yes, I have, because I’ve gotten so close to the family as the fundraiser that I’m invited because I’m a part of their family. I’ve been to baptisms and that’s how I’m successful because I am a person first, fundraiser second.
Diana: Okay. So, what if you told me you’ve been working for a lot of different organizations you’re mentioning.
Sam: Yes. Alzheimer’s Association, St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the American Cancer Society, DePaul University.
Diana: So, my question would be then if you get these really tight relationships with people then when you move jobs, then what, because what you’re describing to me is more friends. But do you then do then transfer that with you to the new organization or?
Sam: Oh, no. Yeah, that’s a great question. That’s an amazing question. You don’t, they’re giving to you because of the mission. It’s not about me. I’m just their friend and I do have friendships that carry on. I’m friends with a lot of my donors but they weren’t my donors, they were the organization’s donors. They were never mine and as fundraisers, when we’re younger, we think they are ours. Those donors are not ours. They are the organizations. They are the MS Society’s missions. They are the Alzheimer’s Associations. They are not Sam Provenzanos, they are not Diana’s.
The good fundraisers know that. We don’t have egos, so we know what we’re doing but there are people that when they leave they’ll try to make them just stop giving and that’s just not ethical. That’s a very small amount of people. But those people that are giving them money. Now, some of them, yes, they miss me and it’s because of me that they had that gift that they gave because of my hustle, because of my passion, because of who I am as a person.
So, then when they go from someone like Sam to just a typical gift officer who doesn’t talk to them it’s done. You ruined it. But it’s my job to also transfer over. So, when I’m leaving St. Jude, I’m making sure that everyone knows I’m leaving. You don’t want to say anything bad happened even if it did happen. You just say I moved on with my career. I’m so excited and thankful for you and who knows what the future holds. Then, you know, they add you on Facebook and you can be really good friends with them and really be yourself because they want to see who you are as best as they can without being a friend because you’re not their friends and you have to know when.
But a friendship and being a listener, I like to build bridges and I hate building things. But I build philanthropic bridges that connect the donor and the organization and the passion of the donor and what the organization can even do. And when those two things are together, that’s where the magic happens and that’s when they realize that they can trust you and they’re going to tell you stories that are going to impact the way that they give and they’re going to tell you stories that are going to say, oh my gosh, I didn’t know this business guy was an entrepreneur.
So, he wants to give to the business school, not the music school. Just because he’s a famous musician doesn’t mean that he wants to give to the music school. Did you guys not listen to him? He’s not passionate about the music school but he’s passionate about the other school and it’s the same team. So, why are we making him give to something that he’s not? That’s why he’s not giving a lot more money because it’s not his passion period. I mean, that’s fundraising and it’s not the typical answer you probably have ever heard before.
It’s just such a fun thing to do, but it’s really just about being a partner with the donor, a partner with the organization like you are. It’s really about you know, hey, I’m having trouble fundraising. Can you help me? I’m raising money for you. Why aren’t you helping? I’m not saying that not you, but there’s a lot of people. I fundraise for a lot of people on my own, not as a professional fundraiser and it really bothers me and I see it through a different lens. So, I’m seeing emails, like 20 emails a day from the same place or 10 emails begging for money. I’m deleting you from my list. That $10 that you got, which of course puts me in the email list. You never thanked me. I never got a phone call. I never got a letter in the mail. It just was taken for granted and that was the only $10 but my friend started giving $10.
Well, all these people that I’m talking about that are giving millions of dollars. My friend Craig started giving $10. Now he’s giving $20,000 every year. My friend Mark started out giving $10,000. He’s now giving one million dollars to his college. I talked to my aunt Jeanie; she gives to women empowerment. She was a donor that was giving 500 now she’s at $5,000 because they’re doing the right things., because those organizations are doing something different and they’re doing something the right way. Now because of COVID especially people are viewing their lives and their friendships and relationships and money much differently.
Diana: Okay. So, I think you’re totally right for one about COVID changing a lot. I think what if you were to give a small thing. One of the things I want to do with the podcast is because even though I’m not at a major level in what I’m doing, I’m still…
Sam: Yes you are. Yes, you are. There you go. See, that’s what I used to tell myself when I was doing what I’m doing. So, I’m going to have to say I believe in you.
Diana: Thank you and my plan is world domination.
Sam: Oh, well, there you go. See, there you go. That is true and I forgot about that one. So, you are a tough cookie too.
Diana: My story. I started out like really small as well, going around in my class at school, asking people to donate for our trip at the end of the school year, and stuff like that. If someone is sitting here listening to the podcast thinking, okay, I really want to try doing some fundraising for my favorite charity, something easy, something that’s a no brainer to go out and do where you can feel like, okay, I really did something good.
Sam: Okay, let’s talk about that. There’s a lot of great ideas and I’m more than happy to email you some tips and tricks after this in November when this air so viewers, we’ll make sure to have this for you. But here’s some good examples that I’ve done that have worked for me so why not? I’m not an expert, but I love to raise money. So, I really like Facebook and I do enjoy Instagram. Instagram now has an option for you to make donations. You’re going to get money. You can raise money that way and as long as you keep doing it and you’re creative, you’re making videos.
You’re saying, hey everybody, it’s me, Sam Provenzano just wanted to make sure everyone knew that I’m raising money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I need you. We only have two days left until this big event. The impact you’re going to have is blah, blah, blah, or you’re doing simple side events, what we used to call them, side events, a carwash to raise money. You go to the local restaurant and you ask them, hey, is there an opportunity that you can get 20% off of everything and I’ll go and bring all my friends, or can you pick an item for one month and donate 5% back to the MS Society?
Is there any way that we do a big night where some of the tips go to the MS Society and we bring in some t-shirts and maybe even bring a speaker in and I can bring in my circle? I’ll invite everyone, I’ll start a group on Facebook and all that money from the event that you do will go to the MS Society. So, those are called side events. So as a fundraiser, you have to have things to help you on the side to use and all that money is going to you and what you’re raising money for. But that’s taking it to the next level because now you’re not just sending out emails and those emails are not working anymore.
So, text messages are saying hey, did you get my email? Hey, I’m raising money for this. Send them the link. Can you forward this on, but again, I’m trying to think more… Bowling fundraiser, anything that you love to do. We did a raffle at our house. We did baskets. Everyone had baskets, 50 of like awesome, cool prizes and then we did raffle tickets, and then you got to put as many raffle tickets in that prize. They call it a Chinese auction in the fundraising world. I don’t know why they call it that. I hope that’s not mean to say but that’s what they call it because I don’t know. It’s just a really fun thing. I can send you that. We raised $12,000. We did $5 to get in. We did a pool party. We had music, we had dancing, we had vendors come in for free and just do some samples and…
Diana: It sounds like a lot though. It doesn’t sound like a small thing.
Sam: True. True. So, let’s think small>So, small let’s do small.
Diana: The reason I’m asking small is because I want to do something that can get people going, because I want to do something where I want to give ideas on something that wouldn’t get people overwhelmed, because I know that for example, doing what I did with auctions for two months straight would overwhelm a lot of people. So, the smaller ideas.
Sam: I think utilizing social media to your advantage and telling your story and why you are doing this. Don’t just do a link and send it out. Really tell your story with that link and then also writing letters. Some people do that in the United States, like personal letters. They write 20 personal letters or typed up letters to their friends and family and there’s an opportunity for them to make that donation in that letter. It comes with the return address to the hospital or wherever the fundraiser is, or just back to your home with the check to the MS Society. You can have 10 girlfriends over and do candles. Sell those merchandise and get 20% off. Then my mom does that all the time for charity. She sells her little candles and the scenty things, Senti or jewelry parties, and then 20% goes to that and those are pretty easy.
You can talk to someone that sells jewelry and say, hey, I’m sure you have a friend that has something really cool. Hey, is there a way that we can work together on this? Is there a way that everyone that donates right now gets a free t-shirt or a free a hug, I don’t know but really impact. Yeah. It’s really just about what’s working for you and who are your friends and your network and just doing something creative.
A lemonade stand is easy. The kids can all get together in the neighborhood and do a lemonade stand for the MS Society. How cool would that be? And then they’re seeing it, and then you could have your flyers there. You’ve got to spread the momentum and keep doing podcasts and things like that. That’s what you’re going to have to do. But there’s a lot of different things. People can join a walk, they can do a run, they can start anything they want to do.
Diana: What is then, because that’s a lot of great ideas. What is the hardest thing about fundraising?
Sam: The hardest thing about fundraising. Well, internally, it’s the idea that people think that we’re just these people that float around with a wand and make people happy and we smile and it’s kumbaya. It’s a cutthroat business, but it doesn’t have to be, and I think we’re seeing that changing again. But the hardest thing also is just knowing that you don’t know everything and you’re going to get a lot of no’s and you’re going to learn a lot of lessons. That’s how you learn. That’s been hard and those are the struggles that everyone has. Self-doubt creeps in.
Diana: Oh, yeah.
Sam: It does, you know, especially pressure, pressure.
Diana: Yeah. I’m guessing that, and this is from, of course not a professional level fundraising because it’s me, but I’m guessing that also professional, you would have some goals.
Sam: Oh, the goals. Yeah. And some goals are unattainable and those are the places you never want to work for. They’re not looking at the reality of what’s happening in the world or in their organization and they are literally yelling at you and screaming at you for getting $10,000, not 100. Everything you can do. There’s only so much you can do. I can’t make someone give me $100,0000, but you’re not going to tell me to raise one million in my first year as a fundraiser. I’m not working for you. You’re not going to tell me to be in the office every single hour of the day as a major gift officer, because I have to be out of the office.
So, you can’t be a micromanager. and those exists. You have to be careful of the beautiful, beautiful ocean that is the fundraising world because there are sharks, and you will get bit, and throwing a life jacket will not save you. A shark will still get you. You have to know who you are as a person; you have to know your worth and you have to let go of the ego. I had to let go of the ego.
Diana: I think that’s a beautiful place to finish up and say, thank you so much for sharing…
Sam: I think so too.
Diana: …your story, unless you have something else that you want to share.
Sam: Oh, no, I talk so much. You asked so many cool questions and here’s something to the listeners. This is like my fourth or fifth podcast ever talking about fundraising. So, I’m nervous too and everyone has to just keep doing what they’re doing. So, whether you’re from Denmark or Sweden or Chicago, Illinois in the United States, we are all in this together.
Diana: Sure. Yeah, exactly. So, if people would like to get ahold of you. If there’s someone thinking, I really want to talk to Sam and hear what he has to say, or just connect with you, or get into your amazing LinkedIn group or whatever it is, how do they get a hold of you?
Sam: Sure. I am on, well, three platforms right now and I’m trying to figure that out. So, here we are, more vulnerability for you guys to take a little behind the scenes. So, Sammy philanthropy, it’s S A M M Y P H I L A N T H R O P Y. It’s Sammy philanthropy. It doesn’t sound as hard. Find me on Instagram because I’m communicating on Instagram with the audience there. Then my biggest audience is on LinkedIn and that’s a professional audience where you will be seen, and I can help you be seen. I can help you get heard.
I don’t know what the future holds, but here I am. Find me on LinkedIn, Instagram, email email@example.com and hey, thank you for being a light and for being such a good worker and author and a powerful woman because that’s what we need in this industry are more powerful, good people. I guarantee you; you’re going to knock that fundraiser out of the park in honor of your husband, I believe you said.
Diana: I did. Thank you. That’s very kind of you. Thank you so much for being on Sam. It’s been amazing.
Sam: Oh, I’m so honored.
I think it’s amazing to hear Sam’s story going from being a news anchor into something totally different, but still also taking the skills that he had from that position as a news anchor and taking that into. Uh, fundraising. I think that’s really, really cool. I love that he has really a focused on network and connections and helping other people,
In the episode, Sam is talking about having a list of tips for you guys. Unfortunately, well for us, not for Sam but so much has happened for him that he hasn’t gotten around to making that list yet. If he does when he does, I will for sure link it for you guys in the show notes on smartbusinessplanning.com and you can find it there.
Next week I will be interviewing Sherry Scott and I look forward to sharing that interview with you. Thank you for listening to the Fun with Fundraising podcast. I’m your host, Diana Lund and if you want to get a hold of me, you can find me on Instagram @funwithfundraising, or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy your week.