Someone asked for my input the other day. I was surprised that I actually had some to offer!
It was a colleague who works for a different division within the same non-profit I work for. She said she was considering putting on a fundraising banquet, and did I have a few minutes to kick around some ideas. We sat down to chat and when she left my office after 40 minutes or so I was actually sort of pleased with myself — I think I gave her several helpful suggestions! Now please bear in mind that I have personally helped plan and execute a grand total of two fundraising banquets, and since one of those was a breakfast it barely counts. So I was hardly speaking from a deep reservoir of personal experience here.
However, in working on those two events I did learn a HUGE amount, including what works (recruit really good table hosts) and what doesn’t (don’t miscount the cupcakes), and also what to watch out for next time (your audio visual people will not automatically show up with a CD player unless you ask for one). My epiphany — sort of a “Well, duh” epiphany at that — is that pretty much everything of value that we learn is learned by doing. And no matter how little experience you may think you have, you probably know more than you think you do.
In fundraising I have found immense value in the informal reservoir of shared experience, information and insight that is all around me. I suspect you have, too. So my encouragement to you (and to me) is, first, be willing to ask for help from others in the business…and, second, be willing share what you know. Join a forum, teach a workshop, start a blog. And as you begin to share, you’ll probably be surprised at how much valuable information you’ve assimilated along the way!