Over the last two years, my husband and I have been in the process of building our dream home. It all started when I did this one thing…I made a decision! To make a decision means you’re cutting off all other options to achieve your goal/dream. For me, I wrote a personal check to myself for $250,000 and hung it on the refrigerator. I told my husband that I was going to will that money into our bank account no matter what. He looked at the check and the ball started to roll – he immediately thought of all the ways we could spend that money – if you can’t tell, I’m the saver and he’s the spender.
Within a few days of that check being on the refrigerator, my husband reached out and called an architect. We’d always wanted to build a modern home but thought we would buy one rather than build. However, we hadn’t had any luck finding just the right home for us as well as one we could actually afford. The great thing was, that in our search for what we didn’t want, we were able to find clarity on what we did want. And it all came back to making the decision that we were going to do something; to move forward.
If you’ve read my book, you know that the seven steps are based on the word F.R.E.E.D.O.M. which is what I’ve used do to all of my fundraising and I used the exact same process to build our dream home. Once we made the decision, it came back to focusing our vision. So often, we struggle with not knowing what we want. We don’t put it on paper, we don’t live it out as if it’s already happened because our inner peanut gallery starts to take over with the “this will never be a reality and will never happen” and kills the dream. Focusing the vision is where I start with all my fundraising – I give numbers, I make a decision.
When I built out my million-dollar fundraiser, I immediately wrote out that one million dollars and I talked about it all the time. I made the decision that we were going to raise one million dollars by recruiting the right people to come around me to make sure that those dollars came to life. To get what you want, you have to make a clear, definitive decision and don’t stop until you get what you want. My challenge to you right now is if there is something you want, you have to be obsessive about it.
Once I uncovered a potential build site for our house, I would drive to it and sit and stare at the grass. I prayed that if this is what God wants for us to show us the way. I journaled over it and wrote out my vision in its entirety. This is the exact same process I use when starting a fundraiser. I spend a lot of time journaling, putting stuff up on my dry erase board, and building clarity around what needs to happen to make everything work. For the house, we started our research by talking to people – home builders, architects, general contractors, etc. to find out what it would take; what we would need to do to make this happen. As this applies to you and your fundraising, you do your research and decide who you want to bring on board to be your core team. Now, you’re going to start building out the branding or the blueprint.
After you have figured out the blueprint, sometimes you run into issues or areas you need make changes. Maybe your volunteers flake out or your donors don’t say yes. We start digging in and we end up digging up stuff, but this is what helps make the fundraiser stronger. It helps move the needle and keeps us moving forward. At this point, you’re in – the house is being built, the event is happening. You have to have crazy belief that no matter what happens, you will figure it out. There are times when you’ll think it’s not going to work out, but when you have momentum in your corner, you can absolutely get it done.
Whenever you’re building something, there are always going to be issues. That’s when we have to make sure we’re patient with the process, that we’re flexible as we move forward and know that in the end, it will all be worth it. Once you’ve executed the plan and gotten what you want, the next step is to celebrate. Then you get to dream about the next thing you want to build. The great part is, you now have all this knowledge and can start to think about how you can take the thing, whatever it is, to the next level.
In the end, the final product was one hundred times greater than my original vision – for the house as well as my past fundraisers. I pushed through my self-doubt and fears and was able to create this thing for myself that is so much greater than my dream. You have to believe in yourself and know that you have every tool inside you to see your dream/vision come to fruition. You don’t have to know everything today to make your dream a reality. You just have to know you have a vision and have made a decision.
Before you move on to the next thing in your day, pause right now and say, “I decide _________.” And then do it.
For more information about Mary Valloni, visit maryvalloni.com and to download our free Fundraising Freedom Roadmap, go to maryvalloni.com/roadmap. For more details about the Nonprofit Executive Club, visit nonprofitexecutiveclub.com.