This past Saturday, we held our Team NPF Cycle Inaugural Ride and it was an amazing experience. As I've been chronicling for the last few weeks, this is my first launch of a completely new cycling event. I've been fortunate to have the opportunity to launch a nonprofit from dream to vision to reality. I've also had very fulfilling roles where I've helped existing organizations and endurance events grow and reach new and exciting goals. But when it comes to launching an endurance fundraising event from 0 to 60, I am (well now I can say was) an absolute first timer.
At the young age of 50, I was a Rookie.
Here are my three most important takeaways that I hope provide you with perspective as you plan and work on your next event whether new or existing:
You're never too old or experienced to learn: I've been working in the nonprofit world for 14 years now and as noted above, I've had a wide range of roles and experiences. I thought I knew a lot going into this. As the old saying goes from some of the self-development programs "I didn't know what I didn't know." Be 150% open to being the new kid on the block - a rookie - and learning from people who know better. Value and learn from their hard-earned experience and leave your ego at the door.
Know and accept that there are going to be surprises, surprises and more surprises: I had the great fortune to work with wonderful people on planning this event: highly experienced staff, endurance event management professionals and the most amazing leadership volunteers I could ask for. We had weekly calls, check-ins, logistics lists, and multiple planning tools. These were all incredibly helpful and no doubt made things run smoother. The simple truth is that for a first time event, you can't know what you're dealing with until you're dealing with it. That means everything from the quality of the routes to the level of attendance to the engagement of volunteers. And you certainly can't do a thing about the weather. So, simply prepare to be surprised, roll with it and move on.
There is truly nothing better than seeing your volunteers be successful: Seeing a rider come in triumphantly across the finish line with a million dollar smile - even an incredibly exhausted million dollar smile - is more valuable than reaching our fundraising goal. It's true. We can find those dollars whether personal, institutional or corporate. We can teach people how to use all the bells and whistles on our cool peer-to-peer websites. But when an athlete decides that they're finishing this thing because they made a commitment to themselves and their donors and refuses to give up, that's priceless. That we have the opportunity to share that experience is absolutely priceless. That's why we do what we do.
Robert Grabel is the President of Nonprofit Now! You can find his posts here and at www.robertgrabel.com
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