Always Ask

Today’s guest blog post is written by Elise Rebmann, Renewals & Retention Manager, PatronManager. 

This past weekend, my family and I went on a “frog walk” at our local nature center. The event started with a brief presentation about identifying local toads and frogs commonly found in our area, then we all suited up with rain boots and flashlights and went out to apply our new skills in the marsh. We paid $7 each for the 2-hour experience, and it was well worth it — lots of fun.

My family and I love this nature center. It’s a place that we go every season to get outside and just be in nature. Through the years, we have gotten more and more involved. My husband and son started volunteering once a month on Saturdays, helping to remove honeysuckle and other invasive plants. We are also donors, and two years ago, I was asked to join the board of directors. This past January I became the board president. To say we are invested in the organization is putting it mildly.

The park is beloved in our small community, but the organization is struggling and working hard to build a sustainable donor base after the loss of an angel donor a few years back. Imagine my abject horror, helping non-profits grow for a living, when not once during our frog walking expedition did anyone talk about the mission of the organization or ask for a donation. There was a sign-in table at the center, but not one mention of the park improvement project that is still $50,000 away from its goal.

There were 20 people there for the walk the night we attended. We are hosting 8 more of these this month while the frogs are loud. If each of these events stays on par with the one we went to, that’s 160 possible donations; even if only $10 or $20 each, we are letting badly needed income slip away. Educational programs are certainly important and are indeed part of the mission, but we literally forgot to ask for more support.  

I came home feeling like a failed board member. How could I not have known we were making such a basic mistake? I took a few minutes, reviewed the website, and sent an email to our Executive Director with my recommendations. I also offered to help make changes to the website and write some thank you emails for frog walk participants moving forward.

Every year we hear more and more about how important just being in nature is to our health. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to help this organization out so it’s here for my grandkids. But if I’ve learned one thing from this experience to share in hopes that your organization doesn’t make the same mistake, it’s that no matter what, don’t ever forget to ask for support!

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