Shop Local... Solicit Local
I hate selling and I hate soliciting, but those are two things I find myself having to do.
Sales is part of my job nowadays; I would much rather simply let my clients come to their own conclusion about the services I offer, without having to pitch, persuade, and/or plead for their continued business. (My mentor in these matters tells me that it’s not a matter of "selling" anything to anyone but rather "guiding them to their heart’s desire." This grasshopper doesn’t quite get it yet, but give it time.)
In the real world, of course, it’s not quite so simple, but I have learned how to offer my professional and honest opinion about how my clients can benefit from my services. Sometimes they hear past the pitch to the genuine concern I’m attempting to communicate; sometimes they only hear what they take to be a sales effort, and tune out. What I won’t do is try to tell someone I know better than they do what it is they really need; maybe that makes me a poor salesman. Another thing I won’t do is try to sell somebody something I don’t truly believe would benefit him.
As for soliciting--well, let no one doubt my love for the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus. Speaking or singing in front of a room full of people has never been a terror for me, but having to show up at someone’s place of business and ask for a donation sets off a volley of voices in my head that makes my heart shudder.
Who do I think I am (those voices demand), showing up, metaphorical hat in hand, to demand an item or a service free of charge? However worthy the cause, how can I be so presumptuous?
Every year, as Crescendo! time approaches, I wrestle with this conundrum. Most years I simply buy some items for themed baskets and donate them; problem solved. Except that the problem isn’t even addressed; it’s sidestepped.
Let me explain Crescendo!. It’s an annual fundraiser that benefits the Chorus. I mean, it benefits the Chorus a lot--as in, it’s crucial to our survival. Ticket sales from our three annual concerts don’t cover our operating expenses, and even with annual dues and performance fees levied on our membership before each concert, we’re still faced with a shortfall.
We have several avenues to try and fill the gap. There are always individual donations, and we have contributors (wonderful, generous souls) who stand by us year after year. Corporate sponsorships help a great deal, too. And then there is Crescendo!, which is essentially a big party with a fund-raising silent auction. The auction is live, and the party lively; we do know how to put on a good time, after all, and every year we have special guests providing entertainment (no less than Miss Richfield 1981 this year!). The proverbial good time is always had by all, and personally, I look forward to the event every year. (Though it breaks my heart, I will not be attending this time around--the one thing I love more than the Chorus is my family, and I have a family event that same weekend.)
Let me quote BGMC Board Vice President Laura De Veau (a married straight woman: The Chorus is nothing if not diverse, and proud of it!). Laura had this to say about Crescendo! recently: "It is a fun, and festive atmosphere and one where anyone is welcome to attend and have fun, bid on items and hang out with great people. It is not a sit down, boring dinner!"
Well, amen, sister!