A faithful reader of this blog asked me several weeks ago, “what is it that you do?” Glad she asked. When I explained what I’ve been doing as a consultant on and off for the past eight years, it led to a lunch, and ultimately a job helping her bring more structure to the non-profit that she founded three years ago. So I thought it might be good for me to share with you what it is that I do.
The answer isn’t simple and has been evolving. Some background first. When I left my position as CEO of Gilda’s Club Northern New Jersey in 2008, I decided I needed to take some time to myself and that perhaps I could use what I learned managing a young non-profit on the verge of bankruptcy to help other young non-profits. I also had a lot of successful fundraising event management experience to share. “The Cause Connection” became official on October 6, 2008 (those of you that know me will recognize a certain irony in that date). So for about five months I hovered between helping start-up and transitioning small non-profits put more structure in place and assisting some with first-time fundraising events. Then because of the necessity for me to support my family, I went back to work full time in March 2009. I continued however to be recommended to small non-profits looking to do first time fundraisers – often runs and walks. Because of my limited time, I would just set up the structure for them (event plan, timeline for execution, staffing/volunteer plan, sponsorship package), and then if they wanted it, provide some coaching to help them in the execution of the plan. When I found myself between jobs again in 2012, I took on bigger projects doing more hands on work. When I left my last full time job in July 2014, I finally decided I was going to put more effort into making my consulting business successful and see if it was something I could turn into a permanent full time job. I gave myself 18 months and would plan to reevaluate where I was early this year. During that time I also trained for Half Marathon, 10k and Marathon goal races in fall 2014, and spring and fall 2015 respectively.
I worked on several projects from strategic planning to managing a gala. And by fall of last year had learned a lot about myself and how I wanted to spend my time. Truth be told, I realized I liked coaching clients better than doing the work for them. While there is certainly a personal satisfaction in seeing your own creation come to life, I get a much broader sense of accomplishment in seeing something continue to grow and flourish because I have helped someone else realize the potential of their own goals and vision. And because it’s so much less time consuming I can have a bigger impact.
I also learned that I can’t deny how important running is in my life.
I read something about the importance of doing what you love. It asked…what makes you happiest? what would you do for free? about what do people most often ask you for advice? Running. Running. And yeah, running. And to a certain degree, non-profit management and fundraising. And of course these are the two things that I know the most about. If only I could find a way to combine those, right?
Last fall after I finished the work on the gala, and the couple of other strategic planning projects concluded, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. Perfect time to finally get a web site up for this business that may be going no where. I figured at the very least it would impress prospective employers. A close friend from high school connected me with Raquel Fernandes-Manzo of Blondie Marketing. She sat with me for over an hour at Starbuck’s one day and asked me questions about not only my business, but about me. Her rates were affordable, so I moved ahead and in about 2 weeks www.thecauseconnection.com was live! And because she took the time to learn about who I was, she chose a picture for the “about me” page that led to my epiphany. I suddenly realized where my running and non-profit experience would come together and how I could transition my business from where it was to where I wanted it to be. This blog was the first step.
Last week I completed the requirements for coaching certification by the Road Runners Club of America. This week I will start the process toward becoming a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC). The client I mentioned, who first asked me about what I do, is an accomplished marathoner who founded a non-profit that trains individuals and families to run and walk and raise funds to help families in their community facing a critical medical crisis and mounting financial issues. I am also taking on another client starting next week, an accomplished development professional who wants to learn to run.
So what is it that I do? “The Cause Coach” helps fundraisers (professional or volunteer) gain and improve skills, ability, and knowledge in order to achieve their goals around running for health and fitness, fundraising, and community impact. Now to revise my web site.
With that, I should also note that I decided this will be a part-time endeavor. And because I need to better fill my time, want to stay more involved in my community, and of course, pay my mortgage, I will be going back to work. Stay tuned for the official announcement.
Dunkerhook Road, Paramus, NJ, Easter weekend 2016