Sometimes you need to ask for what you want.
Even when the conditions aren’t “ideal”.
Yesterday, Evie (my 11 year old daughter) asked me to ride to the beach with her for a late afternoon swim. But there was only one problem: It was 62 degrees, windy and raining. She made her case, confidently and directly, and would not take “No”, or “maybe later”, or “are you nuts? For an answer. So of course, because she’s so convincing I said “yes.”
And while pedaling to the beach I thought to myself, “Is she serious? Swimming, in THIS?? No way she gets in the water. She’ll turn back at some point, right?”
Rain soaked us from what seemed like every direction, like that scene from Forest Gump when he’s sloshing through the jungles of Vietnam, except that we were riding to Jenks Beach on Chebeague Island. When we arrived, the wind - now unimpeded by the pine tres that lined the road to the beach - held steady at 25 knots and turned the sea a melancholy green dotted with foamy whitecaps - hardly ideal conditions for a dip in the North Atlantic.
Still: there was nothing holding Evie back. She dropped her sweatshirt and flipflops, and ran into the water. To avoid her inevitable “cluck-cluck-clucking” in my direction, I went soon after. A pair of osprey heckled me from overhead. Seagulls gawked in amazement. And to be honest, I felt like we’d all lost our proverbial shit.
Instead, something magical happened. We started laughing. We splashed around in the waves, caught raindrops in our mouth, and swam through wind blown seaweed islands. And though the wind and rain were relentless, we didn’t want it to end. Evie called it the “best swimming day ever”.
We haven’t stopped talking about it since.
As I reflected on our little storm-swim, I thought it could serve as an appropriate metaphor for fundraising during a Capital Campaign. Because in a Campaign, the maelstrom of activities, meetings, events, consultative dinners, and Presidential/CEO solicitation meetings are relentless and rocky. And like the osprey and seagulls, there are always hecklers, haters, naysayers, and doubters.
But those critical major gift asks can’t always wait for the sun to come out. So even when it’s rainy and windy, you launch your Campaign. You make your case, over and over and over again. You ask, and ask. And ask again. Even when the rain and wind are blowing and swirling all around you, you make that ask. And when you do, sometimes you give your Organization the chance to make a difference in the world.
Evie reminded me that you can still ask for what you need even when the conditions aren’t perfect. Because sometimes, some days, you just need to go for a swim.