Fighting Poverty with Passion
This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about accessiblity: resource sharing, what it means to make resources accessible, how to open up the crazy world of non-profit fundraising to people doing awesome work, and how to break down the walls that insulate the resources (read: wealth, knowledge, relationships, etc.) of Tulane University.
A couple days ago, I had the opportunity to sit in on a meeting between a coworker and the director of another nonprofit based in Central City. This director is doing amazing work at her site – giving free tax prep classes, helping register voters across New Orleans, helping give STEM lessons to local students, doing work force prep for New Orleans youth, and incubating 24 young leaders born and raised in New Orleans. Bad-ass, right?!
The only problem was that her site wasn’t actually getting money. Instead, bigger, more established nonprofits she had partnered with were getting all the funders’ attention. Screwed up, right?!
So, my coworker had set up this meeting with the director to brainstorm different ways/language she could use to get more funding. Being part of the process was really cool, and reminded me of my work as a peer writing tutor during college.
Ex: The director came with all these numbers/stats of the work her organization had done, and came with clear, concise values (like, “investing in people,”keeping people at the center of policy,” “listening deeply”) but was having trouble organizing all the amazing work she does. After listening to her explain the organization’s role in her own words, and what she was trying to do, my coworker, the director, and I parsed out that her report out to funders should be arranged in the same way that the director thinks about the work, which is in three distinct categories of educate, advocate, and collaborate.
Once we hit on that 3-part idea for organization (with a lot of starts and stops before hand), the director was able to name right away which programs/initiatives fit into each category. After our meeting, she told me that she felt so much better! It was pretty awesome, and reminded me of when college students would come in to a writing appointment with me, thinking they had no idea what their thesis was, and leave an hour later realizing that they knew what they wanted to write about the whole time, but had just had trouble organizing all their ideas.
There’s something incredibly amazing to me about being able to listen to someone, reflect back what they’ve said, and have that reflection allow the person to hear or see what they could not hear/see before. And I feel grateful to be allowed to listen.