Telling Stories Over Coffee

Baby LR

This is Post #4 in a five-part series, honoring the release of the 2nd Edition of FriendRaising.

To read this series from the beginning, head here.

In this series, I’m highlighting stories from the book – stories of our days building the first-ever community-wide Diaper Bankin Tucson, Arizona!

Today’s story is all about “why.”

Why are you doing the work you do? And how can you connect people to that ultimate purpose – the big picture of what you hope to accomplish for your community?

Events in Your Home:
(From FriendRaising page 58)…

Sometimes introducing your friends to your organization requires little more than inviting friends to your home. These are not fundraising events. You will not be charging to attend the party, nor will your friends be strong-armed to give, either while they are there or after. The point of these events is fun, connection, mission, real engagement – not money.

Events in your home are intended to bring together the mission you care about and the friends you care about – nothing more or less than making that connection.

By introducing your friends to the work you’re doing and the reason you’re doing it, you will hopefully be igniting their desire to become more deeply engaged with your vision for what is possible in your community.


The Interactive Coffee

Poster Baby 1Back in 1992, when State funding for childcare was about to be cut by the Arizona legislature, the Diaper Bank realized the crippling effects that would have on a parent’s ability to work.

Rather than just make a few phone calls, we chose to get the word out to a whole army, encouraging them to make those calls themselves. But we knew if we were to just send out an email or a form letter, it was likely our request would land in the trash.

So instead, we held Interactive Coffees in the homes of some of our supporters. Rather than doing a 10 minute pitch and then asking folks to fill out a postcard (standard coffee fare, ala political coffees), we proposed the following scenario:

“Dad works at the industrial plant, making $12/hour. Mom is working retail part time and attends the community college, aiming to become a nurse. The kids are 4 and 2 – the baby still in diapers.”

We showed how this working family made too much to qualify for assistance, and showed how the daycare cuts would not only stop mom from working, but would stop her from going to school to advance herself and her family.

Poster Baby 2 LRWe handed a pad and pencil to those in attendance and asked them to do the math and help this family budget. “What would you do? How would you survive? What decisions would you have to make?” They learned in a flash what is meant by the words “Working Poor”.

When they were done marveling at how families survive on these wages, we asked them to make calls, encouraging the legislature to assist families in their struggle to become self-sufficient.

Was this more powerful than sending out a postcard? And did the folks who attended those sessions become friends? The answer to both is, “You bet!

Tomorrow, I’ll wrap up this series with the real meaning of friendship. (Hint: It’s all about being a real friend, nothing more or less.) You’ll find that post here.

To read more from FriendRaising, click here to download portions as a PDF.


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