Rhonda-Marie Avery: On Fear and Hope

Submitted photo

ABOUT RHONDA-MARIE
Rhonda-Marie Avery is an Ontario ultra runner with 8 per cent vision. In August 2014, she completed  The Bruce Trail end to end  in 20 days. She took on this 885 km challenge in support of Achilles Canada, a  non-profit that provides free athletic training, support and a sense of community to more than 10,000 disabled athletes in 70 countries worldwide.

Rhonda-Marie Avery’s Bruce blog
@ramavery

INTRODUCTION
Rhonda-Marie’s name  popped up on my newsfeed again after she completed a Tough Mudder. I’m so glad it did. I immediately sat down and watched 8% No Limit, the documentary about her Bruce adventure featured as a Get Out There Web Television Series and planned to interview her. Rhonda-Marie shared how she chooses her adventures,  how she handles fear, and what she hopes her children will take away from her experiences. If you are thinking of taking on a goal that frightens you (the only kind that matters), you should adopt her motto and  put your brave pants onTracy

You have said, “I was not given this life to hide in it.” When did you have this realization? 

I think perhaps the day I signed up for my first ultra marathon I knew, you don’t just show up to this sort of event (24 hrs in the forest) and say nothing.  The idea that you could be in actual real danger weighs a bit on you.  So you start telling people, “Please, I have 8% vision, I’ll have a guide runner on course with me the entire time, and if I fall, it’s not your fault”.  In college, I’d sit at the front of each class and ask ten million questions.  “What are you pointing at? Can you describe that picture?  What colour is that?  What do you mean by ‘red’?”  In previous years I’d do anything I could to blend in, not be noticed, slip under the radar.  Why would I tuck my white cane in my back pack at the mall/gym/playground?  To make others more comfortable.  Now I tuck it away only when I don’t need it, or when the metal gets so cold I can’t hold onto it.  There are times I’ll go for a long lonely county road run alone and stop at the main crossing, pull my cane out, cross safely and then put it away again and continue running.  How does this ‘revealing’ of my disability manifest in my life?  It allows me a comfort zone.  The funny part is, for the most part, that comfort zone makes others rather uncomfortable.

When did you start running? What drew you to it and how did it progress to ultra?

I started running the August before I started college for massage therapy.  My three children were young and needed my attention a great deal.  My studies, I knew needed a clear head.  I connected with Achilles Canada and they took me out three times a week for 20 minutes of walk/run. I used to time my runs with the length of the washing machine cycle, or the dishwasher, any ‘allowable’ amount of time.  My first race was a 4 kilometre leg of a relay.  The idea that you could lose your mind completely and hit reset for a time was a wonderful new adventure.  The progression to ultra became a natural flow. The first ultra I did was supposed to be my vacation.  24 hours of as much running as I wanted to do.  I loved the idea of running at night in the forest.  I see best in the dark.  But when I got there, when my feet moved through the course, felt the pain, the fatigue, the want to keep going when everything in my ‘normal’ life screamed stop.  That was when I knew…. ultra can take you anywhere, if you open your heart to it.

How do you choose your adventures? Or how do they choose you?

I beg people to suggest something that they assume I can’t do.  At least that’s how it started. There are the adventures that keep me awake, the ones that crave me as much as I crave them.  I follow able bodied examples.  I want so badly to see other disabled athletes step up and try these quests, show the world we are part of it.  Redefine the ideas we have about limitations.  I choose the dreams that stay long after sleep leaves.  The ones that need writing down, speaking out loud, pictures hung up.  I long for the adventures that make no sense, because they don’t fit in any paradigm we accept.  They don’t make sense to me either.  It’s as though they just must be done.

Can you remember when you first decided to run the Bruce? Tell me about it. How long did it take the fear to set in?

I decided to run the Bruce Trail after seeing Cody Gillies finish picture at the southern cairn.  He was sitting there, taking his socks off.  Didn’t care that people were watching. That they expected some profound words of wisdom.  He just wanted to take off his socks.  And the entire ultra world exploded with hope and cheer.  I remember thinking… Of course he finished.  Look at him!  Twenty nothing, strong, hero prototype. I thought, no one would expect a disabled finisher!  I certainly didn’t.  And then wham!  Never, ever tempt karma with a dream you are unwilling to fight for.  Fear?  I think the moment people started to believe in me I was afraid.  Not sure that ever goes away.  Running 5 km is still very hard for me.  However, I’d do it any day, or 50 km any day.  You have to get comfortable with fear, it’s a noisy companion, but it keeps you moving.

Tell me about your relationship with fear today.

Fear.  I wake up in the night with cold sweats the day before I have to grocery shop.  That means I have to cross this road, and that road. Means I have to read labels, all squinty eyed and close up in front of people.  Means I have to display weakness.  Bolt out of bed.  Weakness?  I am 36 years into this life, I have known it only through my disability.  I have accomplished several wonderful challenging things, and yet I STILL see disability as a weakness.

Fear is constant.  What you manage to get done in-spite of it matters more.  If your goals and dreams don’t scare you… they won’t challenge you.  You need fear like you need hope.  Difference creates space for change.

What’s the difference, to your mind, between being brave and being willing?

Being brave…. I like to say “put your brave pants on”.  Bravery, acting in the face of fear.  I do that every day.  Walking to the post office, manoeuvring union station alone.  Choosing my brand of ice cream.  Finding the women’s washroom at the Walmart.  Being willing?  Every night I go to sleep and ask the universe to accept my life, for what it’s worth, as a vehicle for change, for awareness, for action.  Again, you cannot preach about change if you are unwilling to change yourself.  I’d like to run the Grand Canyon.  Miss one step and end of story.  Is that brave?  Maybe.  Willing? Maybe the willing part carries more of a message.  My eulogy will likely read “Batgirl dies willingly having fed a mountain lions family on the Appalachian Trail”  That’s way better that slumped over a desk wondering what if?

After so long on the Bruce, do you ever miss the trail? 

Of course I miss my Bruce!  I miss the way the trees jumped out in front of me, left their sappy sticky kisses on my sides.  I miss the vultures that hover too close in a wait and see game I can’t win.  I miss the way the orange mushrooms popped out at noon.  I miss the way the single track carries you down to the creek crossing and washes away the landscape as you cross.  I miss the way the underbrush swept past my shoes in a blur of dazed, exhausted confusion.  I’ve been back.  Run sections I crawled through. Danced under trees that called my name, that remember my breath.  I’ve heard the echoes from deep in the crevices of a land before my time.  The escarpment claimed me as part of its history.  We miss each other daily.  The Bruce was my sight into the soul of something tangled within.

Why did you say S.M.A.R.T goals are not smart?

SMART goals… My example of a smart goal is making a pot of coffee.  It’s specific.  It’s measurable.  It’s attainable.  It’s reasonable.  It’s timely.  I will brew a pot of coffee before I get my kids out the door to school tomorrow.  SMART goals become habits.  They become the things we stop thinking about.  Like brushing our teeth.  Don’t get me wrong, they are useful, they set the bar, help us make changes we need to fit healthy lifestyles into life.

But the big dream?  The one that will change your life?  That nags at the corners of who you want to be?  If they are so scary that you feel sick thinking about them… you won’t likely reach for them.  They need to be SO BIG that if one thing goes wrong, if one thing gets in the way, everything will fall apart.  That way you are certain to let nothing stand in your way.  If you want it badly enough, your purpose will move mountains. SMART goals just don’t get me there.

Why did you choose the Achilles Foundation?

Achilles taught me to run.  They took disability out of the picture.  It wasn’t a question could I run because I have 8% vision.  It was okay, run one minute, walk the next.  Learn, progress, adapt.  Disability has this awkward place between accessibility and adaptability.  Achilles worked with me and guide runners to make my goals reality.  They’ve seen me through a lot… ultras and triathlons and more.  I’d never heard of them before.  I choose them because other disabled athletes need to know of them.

What have been the hardest lessons you’ve had to learn about fundraising for Achilles and now your own Foundation?

The hardest lesson… Awareness is my goal.  That doesn’t always mean money.  In fact, it hardly ever does.  It means volunteers, guides, trainers, crew, transport, supplies, delegated organizers.  Asking for money shuts some of that down.  A coach may have no financial ability to help, but can give two hours a week to get a disabled athlete on the right training plan.  A College student may have nothing to offer from their bank account but can offer to babysit so the disabled athlete can go for a run.  An aunt or uncle contributes way more than they can imagine by sharing the stories.  The work gets done when you love what you do.  And I love what I do.  I hope to always work to create this place where the ground is a bit more level, and acceptance is a bit more wide spread.   That being said, the hardest part for me is always asking for money.

What’s your best fundraising tip?

Tell a story worth telling, leave out the ending so people will want to attach themselves to the finishing of it.  Get them involved as much as you can.  Keep their attention.  Oh, and bribe them with cookies.

I loved reading about your experience at the Tough Mudder and I think you captured the character of obstacle races — the comradeship and strange glee. Are you doing it again or what is going to be your next adventure?

Obstacle racing is a huge bucket of fear for me.  I loved it.  And I hated it.  Yes I would do it again.  I have been asked to this year.  I’m thinking perhaps of waiting until my kids are all old enough to do it with me.  My next adventure, I’m running a through run on the Avon Trail in April (110 km) all in one go.  There are FKT’s (fastest known times) online for our trails, men’s records, women’s records… oddly no disabled records.  I’m attempting a 100 mile race early June as well.  Mostly my focus is on building up the Envisions Foundation and co-directing a winter trail ultra next year. Ohhhhh….. and I’d really, really love to go to Barkley.

 The training, the commitment…it all takes time. What do you want your children to know about why you do this?

Commitment matters.  Chasing your dream matters.  Deciding you’re going to give your word you will do something means sacrifice.  So yes, I get up at 3:30am some days.  Yes I am on the bike/yoga mat/pull up bar in between washing dishes and vacuuming.  Yes when we go to the park I’m going to play hard too.  My kids need to know the world doesn’t soften for you.  You make your way because of consistent effort.  They need to know that wonderful people come out and support.  They need to know that supporting others is necessary and important.  They need to know, they are worth a life changing goal.  They need to know they must think beyond accepted norms and limits.

And they need to know I love them.

 Can you finish this sentence for me? “One person can…”

One person can…

… change the colour of the walls they live in

… move mountains with a fondue fork

… sing a song the will stop the birds in flight

… dance to the rhythm no one else can hear

… piece together words in a karmic twist so sweet you will lull yourself away from fear

… stand up for anything, if only they believe

… make magic from a cup of tea

… stir the souls of nations if driven to add a little sugar

… redefine the possible

… find passion in every drop of sweat struggle creates

 

Lewis Clarke: On Inspiration, Drive and Support

Photo Credit: Lewis Clarke
Photo Courtesy of www.youngesttosouthpole.wordpress.com


ABOUT LEWIS
On January 18, 2014, Lewis Clarke became the youngest person ever to trek overland from the Antarctic coast (Hercules Inlet) to the South Pole. The 16-year old skied over 1,120 km in 48 days and he faced harsh conditions, temperatures nearing -50 C and winds of up to 193 km/h. But he wasn’t new to adventure. When he was only 12-years old, Lewis was part of the youngest relay team to successfully swim the English Channel.

Lewis Clarke’s website

INTRODUCTION
Lewis Clarke is the first adventurer I had to wait to interview because he was still writing his exams. I wanted to know what would motivate today’s teen to venture outside of the virtual world and to risk himself to help people in need. Lewis points to timely advice from mentors, family support, and a focus on what truly matters. He also shared a simple, three-step formula for achieving something incredible. It was worth the wait! —Tracy

Why the South Pole? Can you remember the first time you thought, “I want to do this”? 

When I was doing my Channel relay swim one of the people who ended up helping out had actually walked to the South Pole, his name is Jon Bradshaw. I just talked to him about it and it sounded like a truly amazing thing to do. Having finished the Channel relay I just really wanted to do something else, and the idea was already in my head. All of which happened very soon after the 2010 Channel swim, early 2011.

What did you tell yourself during the moments it seemed too difficult?

I just remembered the enormous effort that myself, my family and my friends had put in to get me there, it was the last of a long series of hurdles and I was sure that I wasn’t going to fail right at the last.

Has the experience changed your perspective about life?

Absolutely, it puts everything far more in perspective and made me care more about the things that really matter, like family and friendship, and worry less about the more pointless things people usually worry about.

Do you feel more kids and teens could benefit from being more adventurous? Why?

Definitely, if only to get more real freedom earlier on in life. It doesn’t matter how big or small the expedition is, just do it. It builds confidence and skills, and teaches young people to be more self-sufficient. I believe that young people have the same ability as anyone else to doing amazing things, but might often feel that they can’t until they are older. You only need 3 things to achieve something incredible: 1) Inspiration, 2) Drive and 3) Support. Young people have just as much drive, and have been inspired, just the same as adults, but people seem to have less belief that young people can achieve. I hope that my expedition and other young people achieving great things will help dispel that feeling.

Why did you choose to support the Prince’s Trust?

They are a charity that specifically help young people. I really liked the idea of helping my peers and I’m going to visit the scheme that my fundraising went towards, which will be a fantastic opportunity to see the good my fundraising has done.

What did you learn about fundraising for the Prince’s Trust before, during, and after the expedition?

The fundraising was best actually during the expedition, when people could be told about all the stuff I was doing. We raised a fantastic £4,000.

What is one tip you would give other adventure fundraisers?

I would say get as many people involved as possible and think up as many different ideas as possible for raising money. The reason I managed to raise so much was because loads of people chipped in to help, my junior school had a fundraising event, my dad went around his work collecting donations, and I did a talk and we had an auction to raise even more money, as well as online donations and various other ways of raising money.

What’s going to be your next adventure?

I plan to canoe the Yukon River in Canada, which is 2,000 miles long. I won’t be going for any record, but it should be a more relaxed expedition than the South Pole, and definitely warmer!

Would you finish this sentence for me? “One person can…”

One person can do anything. As simple as that, no matter who you are if you are inspired, driven and have support, the sky is the limit.

Alastair Humphreys: On Differentiation

Photo courtesy of www.alastairhumphreys.com

ABOUT ALASTAIR

Alastair Humphreys is an adventurer, blogger, author, and motivational speaker. His first adventure was a four-year cycle around the world that took him to 60 countries in 5 continents. He logged over 46,000 miles. This self-financed bike expedition raised donations that went directly to Hope and Homes for Children. Hope and Homes for Children is a charity dedicated to providing a family and a future for young victims of war and disaster. It has provided family homes for thousands of children in 13 countries around the world. He followed up his round the world trip with a walk across India, the Marathon des Sables, and a row across the Atlantic. In 2012, Alastair was named as a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year for his pioneering work on the concept of microadventures. With this initiative, he is on a quest to liberate the idea of adventure as an “elite” activity. His new book on Microadventures launched this week.

www.alastairhumphreys.com
@al_humphreys

INTRODUCTION
I had the opportunity to catch up with this adventurer-blogger-author-speaker before he took off to the Isle of Skye on a microadventure. I wanted to find out more about how he went from struggling to raise awareness and money for his cause in 2006 to achieving fundraising success “often without pedalling an inch”. Alastair recalled his regrets, touched on how he changed things by developing a strong profile, reminded me about the value of being different —and gave some pretty great advice: Just get going! —Tracy

In 2006 you were unsatisfied with your fundraising for Hope and Homes for Children. What happened to change your opinion of your efforts?

I’m afraid that my answer is perhaps not very encouraging for people starting out in fundraising, except perhaps to say that the only way to build your fundraising ‘power’ is to begin. Just get going! I was disappointed that I didn’t raise much money (I think about £15k) from cycling round the world for 4 years. Since then I have raised many times that amount for the charity, often without pedalling an inch! I’ve launched a lecture series called ‘Night of Adventure’ which has done well, but mostly my fundraising impact has increased simply as my online presence and profile has grown. This is not new knowledge: the more people who know about you, the more you will raise. It’s as simple as that. TV celebrities raise £1million easily, normal people raise £15k in 4 years of cycling. So the lesson is that publicity is key.

In those years, what did you learn about yourself, your adventures and fundraising in general that made the greatest difference to your ability to fundraise for your organization?

People are jaded by Justgiving. “Please sponsor me to run a marathon” no longer has much clout for so many people do that these days. You need to differentiate: how is your challenge difficult? Why is it hard to you? Why is it interesting to me?
I received one of those round robin emails recently – “please sponsor me to cycle to France (or something – I don’t even remember the trip) because my baby son has had two heart operations and I want to thank the hospital who has helped him”. I donated instantly because of that element of interest, differentiation and -frankly- reason for me to care.

When did you realize you were becoming a more effective fundraiser? What happened?

Sadly I don’t have a good answer here. It has just been a gradual growth as my online profile has gradually grown. I’d encourage anyone attempting to fundraise to put a real effort into getting publicity for their challenge: you absolutely have to be able to reach out beyond your circle of friends and colleagues. You need to not recognise all the names on your JustGiving donation list.

What are your greatest fundraising challenges today?

Overcoming apathy (so many people running marathons) and lack of time (so many worthy causes running events). The challenge is to be different, and to request people’s attention and money infrequently but meaningfully.

How To Overcome Apathy

What’s the greatest obstacle to getting support for a worthy cause according to adventure fundraiser Alastair Humphreys?

Overcoming apathy (so many people running marathons) and lack of time (so many worthy causes running events). The challenge is to be different, and to request people’s attention and money infrequently but meaningfully.

Michael Nilsen, Vice President, Public Affairs of the Association of Fundraising Professionals has some advice that might help you with this challenge.

What is the best way to overcome the apathy of the public who are approached by so many people and organizations promoting runs, marathons, challenges and adventures?

An important part of fundraising and charity is that people give to people. They might not ordinarily give to your cause, but if someone they know asks them to support or participate, they are quite likely to. So, it’s critical that your cause uses its major supporters and their contacts as much as possible.

An innovative or creative event can help too. There are so many adventure/athletic events now, so it’s helpful to be able to stand out in some way. This can be important but it pales compared to the first factor—connecting.

How can we move past simple differentiation and make an adventure and/or campaign remarkable?

It goes back to the first answer. It’s all about connection. Because at some point, the adventure is going to be get dwarfed or forgotten by the next fad or craze. Or someone’s interest changes. But a connection with a cause can remain a long time.

So we have to focus on stories, on impact—why the charity and cause exists and what change do you bring about change in the community.

In your opinion, what are the common elements of a remarkable campaign?

They’re all about the donor. We say that effective and ethical fundraising is donor-centered—it has to be about the donor. Engaging the donor. Inspiring the donor. Making them feel like they are part of something. That they’re doing more than just making a gift—they’re making a difference. It’s about communicating with them, from beginning to the end, and making them feel part of the movement and cause.

I would also add that dividing the campaign into distinct achievable elements is also important. Particular for programs when you’re training or raising funds, divide the major goal into sub-goals. Congratulate participants on key accomplishments throughout the process. Positive feedback and encouragement is also critical.

Do you have any tips on creating campaigns that people choose to talk about, regardless of what the others are doing?

With so many of these kinds of adventures happening now, don’t be afraid to try something new. But always do so with the donor in mind. You may think you know what’s best for your donors and supporters, but we always can stand a good check. Talk with your strongest supporters and see what they think. They can be your best minds and provide good perspective.

 

Rough Road Photo credit: carolina terp via photopin cc

Jamie McDonald: On Motivation

PROFILE PHOTO BY: Glenn Bonnett

I caught up with Jamie McDonald a few months after he completed his inspiring unsupported run across Canada. He answered my questions only weeks after recovering from what he called “one, big, monumental come down after being on cloud nine for so long”. Jamie talked about how he kept himself motivated when fundraising goals and world-records lost all meaning. What he learned from his epic expedition has the power to change your perspective: what really keeps us going is the people we meet, the friends we make, and the ripples we leave behind us. Tracy

What did you tell yourself when you woke up to get you going day after day even when you wanted to quit?

I had to keep telling myself that this wasn’t supposed to be easy and that no matter how hard it felt, I had to get going as people were counting on me. The expectation weighed heavily on my shoulders, but I guess I placed it there in the first place, so remembering that was important.

At one point, you posted that “the numbers” stopped meaning anything. The fundraising goal didn’t have the ability to motivate you when you were in the middle of it all. Were you surprised by this realization?  To what did you turn for motivation instead?

I was incredibly surprised, but at the same time and on reflection, it makes sense. When you think about it, looking at black and white fundraising figures on a computer screen isn’t ‘real’. My motivation came from the children and families that spent time in hospitals that I was raising money for. Seeing and hearing from the people whose lives I could potentially impact will always motivate me more than figures on a screen.

On the road, you learned that you would not be the first to complete this challenge. What did you learn about using “record breaking” as a motivation? Note: Jamie became the first Brit to accomplish this feat.

I have to be honest, it hurt me when I found out that I wasn’t going to be the “first” person to run across the country without a support crew. Knowing that I wasn’t going to achieve a new record felt like a motivational element being stripped from me. At the end of it all though, worrying about that not only disrespects Kevin Thomson’s phenomenal achievement, but achieves nothing. Pride and jealousy can be soul destroying emotions and finding out made me realise that although being the first person to accomplish a goal is a great motivator, it can eat away at you. My ethos is that no one can take away the people I’ve met, the friends I’ve made, the money I’ve raised – and that’s what matters.

People often use a big goal, a summit, or a finish line to give them forward momentum and to capture the imagination of supporters. After you left Canada, you wrote, “I feel stupid for ever thinking there was one big cake at the end – I don’t think I’ll ever take one of those crumbs for granted again.” How do you think this realization will influence your future adventures?

To appreciate (even more) EVERYTHING that is thrown at you, even all the hardships along the way. Crumbs come in all varieties – some are delicious and some leave a nasty taste in the mouth – but even the worst tasting food fills you up. Life is about appreciating each and every crumb, whether in the moment or after it.

Why do you believe the Canadian people embraced your adventure? Why was it something they wanted to support, talk about and share?

I suppose I attempted what I thought was impossible, especially with no support crew – I became an underdog and looking back now, I think that’s why people supported. During the trip, I shared so much of my journey through social media, to keep me going as much as anything else. I wore my heart on my sleeve and gave people an insight into what it was truly like to run across Canada. People like to support genuine acts of selfless kindness that will inevitably help other people and I feel like my pain brought a lot of people together. Anytime I thought about that pain though, I remembered Terry Fox and the fact he attempted what I was setting out to achieve with one leg and later on, cancer, showing the sort of determination I and others can only dream of.

You’ve had your cycling adventure, your static bike record and now the unsupported run across Canada. Over those years, what did you learn about yourself, your adventures and fundraising in general that made the greatest difference to your ability to fundraise for your cause? 

Never having been a cyclist or a runner prior to my adventures, I realised that I’m stronger than I could have ever imagined. Adventure can be whatever you want it to be. The biggest realisation is that if I accidentally discovered this by taking a huge leap into the unknown, then who else can do this if they try? Anyone can be a superhero.

In your opinion, what motivates people to give?

Familiarity with the person behind the cause, knowing exactly what the money is being spent on and most importantly, if the person has a raw connection to the cause – they will do everything in their power to give and also get other people to give, too.

What remains your greatest challenge or obstacle when fundraising? 

Publicly announcing that you’re about to take on a challenge that you don’t know is possible. Once it’s out there, the fear will get to you if you let it.

 You had a rare and intimate experience of the entire Canadian geography, cultures and landscapes…something very few Canadians have experienced or ever will experience. What mark did Canada leave on you?

Canada is massive but not as big as Canadian hearts. I will always cherish Canada, the people I met and the experiences I had. I think the journey taught me even more about the kindness of the human race, something obscured by the media scrutinising the negatives rather than celebrating the positives. The majority of people don’t get to see that we are, on the whole, good and hopefully, I was able to shine a small light on the fantastic people in Canada that showed this.

Can you finish this sentence for me? One person can….

One person can pursue their dreams and ignite other people’s, simply by trying.

 

About Jamie McDonald

Jamie McDonald became the first person from Britain to complete an unsupported run across Canada in February 2014. He ran 200 marathons to finish the grueling 7,000+ kilometre personal challenge in 331 days. He ran across the praries in conditions that bottomed out at -40 degrees Celsius and over the Rocky Mountains during avalanche warnings, all while pushing a 130-lb load of supplies in a baby stroller he dubbed “Caesar” and dressed as The Flash superhero.

McDonald is no stranger to personal challenge. In 2012, he cycled from Bangkok to Gloucester, England. Just two days after arriving, he set the world static cycling record, biking more than 11 days. As a child, Jamie was in and out of Gloucester Royal Hospital over a nine-year period with a rare spinal condition known as syringomyelia, as well as a very weak immune system.

His childhood battles contributed to his determination and compassion as an adult. Jamie has raised over $200,000 for children’s charities in the UK and Canada, including and the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, the Pied Piper Appeal, which supports Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, and also Canadian charities such as SickKids Foundation.

 Follow Jamie

Learn more at http://www.jamiemcdonald.org

Will Fear Stop You Before You Start?

What’s the greatest obstacle to taking on a major challenge to support a worthy cause according to adventure fundraiser Jamie McDonald?

“Publicly announcing that you’re about to take on a challenge that you don’t know is possible. Once it’s out there, the fear will get to you if you let it.”

Michael Nilsen, Vice President, Public Affairs of the Association of Fundraising Professionals has some advice that might help us face down that fear.

“I would say remember WHY you’re doing it, and connect it back to your cause and mission,” Nilsen stated. “The people who are supporting you and the cause WANT you to succeed—they’re on your side. You’re not going to let them down because the attempt – and bringing awareness to the cause—is the main part of what you’re doing.”

The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) represents more than 30,000 members in 235 chapters throughout the world, working to advance philanthropy through advocacy, research, education and certification programs.  The association fosters development and growth of fundraising professionals and promotes high ethical standards in the fundraising profession.

Even for people who love adventure, fundraising can be more intimidating than an expedition. Where to start?

Arming ourselves with knowledge can help us face this fear, just like with any other challenge. There is a code of ethical principles and standards that fundraisers use.  According to Nilsen, all fundraisers should be aware of them, though some apply specifically to professional fundraisers.

“The Donor Bill of Rights is probably where fundraisers should start. This list spells out explicitly what donors should expect when making a gift and what charities should provide. I think it will help fundraisers to let their supporters know they’re following this Donor Bill of Rights.”

Photo credit: Andrew_D_Hurley via photopin cc

Adventure, Challenge, Inspiration and Fundraising

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