For my year in Zambia with the Young Adult Volunteer program, I need to fundraise $4,000 in gifts and pledges. To a recent college graduate with an internship that pays by the hour, that’s a lot of money.
When I first accepted my offer from the YAV program, I wasn’t worried about fundraising at all. I was high with excitement and anticipation about my upcoming year, and I didn’t want to worry myself about the present when I was so excited about the future. But, of course, reality came knocking. As the month of July (and my first fundraising milestone) approached, I was overcome with anxiety about asking people for money and where I was going to find thousands of dollars. I needed to raise $2,000 by July 1st, and I didn’t know if that was an achievable goal.
Fundraising is stressful because, whether you want to admit it or not, you are opening yourself up to rejection. I might email countless people to then be told “no” or ignored (both have happened). I might walk into a church with soaring optimism and leave without words of encouragement, connections, or financial contributions (this, on the other hand, has never happened). These scenarios (and the possibility of being told no) are what makes fundraising so stressful.
Asking for money leaves you vulnerable. I am confessing a pressing and necessary need for funds, something that makes me uncomfortable to admit to people. I am emailing strangers, re-introducing myself to acquaintances, and meeting with congregations of churches I have never been to in order to raise money. I am taking a risk every time I ask someone to support me. I am leaving myself open to disappointment.
But, so far, I have been met with incredible warmth, encouragement, and support (both spiritually and financially) from communities and churches. Strangers have opened their arms to me and congratulated me on this exciting chapter of my life. People as far as Kentucky and South Carolina have offered their help and prayers in support of my service year. Amazing people have made generous financial contributions, given me connections in Zambia, and prayed for my journey and safety.
I was not prepared for this outpouring of support or the immense and remarkable generosity of others. Even though you are opening yourself to failure, you are also allowing yourself to accept generosity and be supported by people who believe in what you’re doing.
Thank you to anyone who has contributed to my service year or has supported me in anyway during this entire process. I want to especially thank the churches that have either allowed me to speak to their congregations or have collected donations for me: Williamsburg Presbyterian Church (WPC), Trinity Presbyterian Church in Surfside Beach, SC, and Third Presbyterian Church in Norfolk, VA. Also, a huge thank you to the Eastern Virginia Presbytery for donating to my service year, as well. And a huge thank you to the amazing mentors that have supported me thus far: Rachel Hebert, Gini Cambell, Tony Larson, and Rev. Morgan and Mrs. Morgan. I have been truly blessed and am so thankful for everyone’s generosity, service, and kindness. As of July 15th, I have raised the necessary $4,000 for Zambia!