Like many people, I am amazed at the viral social media success of the ALS #Icebucket challenge fundraising effort. According to the ALSA.org website, donations have reached $62.5mm as of 8/23/14. It seems impossible to visit Facebook without seeing a video of somebody taking the challenge. I can’t think of a better example of the NEW SCHOOL doing good things for a worthy charity.
As a former board member of the Down Syndrome Association of Memphis/Mid-South (DSAM), it brought back many memories of 6+ great years of non-profit service.
Every year in October, the DSAM held their annual “Step up for Down Syndrome” fundraising walk. To say that it was a labor of love put it mildly. Some rough numbers:
- Well over 3,500 people attended
- Nearly as many King Cotton Hot Dogs were consumed!
- Monogram Foods (parent company of King Cotton) was always a fantastic supporter, and I was proud to call Monogram home for 8+ years
- The number of volunteers that touched this event went well north of 50. From high school kids looking to earn volunteer credit, to moms, grandparents and staff members that worked long hours with selfless dedication to the cause. Ever try throwing a party for 3,500 plus people? Not easy. Which brings me to my next point.
Many of my fellow MALE board members would often joke about the weekend preparations leading up to the event. Lots of physical activity took place, and plenty of sore muscles lasted for a few days.
The joke among my guy counterparts? The role of the female staff leadership vs. the male board members organizing the event:
“To pull this off, what we need are strong backs and weak minds!”
The guys on the board all joked about this. Call this the Old School summary of our role helping out for the event.
These are guys that all had some type of managerial full time job, many with large and growing companies. Suspending ego, playing a support vs leadership role is not exactly in our DNA. But it was needed for success.
We’ve all heard the expression about too many chefs in the kitchen. Organizations, whether striving to make a profit or striving to fulfill a service mission without one, need a mix of strong minds writing the playbook, and strong and dedicated people delivering it. Neither is more important and without each other working together the mission won’t be achieved.
After fulfilling my #Icebucketchallenge, I looked back fondly on not just my years of service to a great non-profit, but the staff leadership I was lucky to get to know. They were all talented, dedicated and driven. I was happy, (at least on the weekend of the event), to value my back over my mind.
I hope with all the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge, there can be a few leaders (or aspiring leaders) that are inspired to give back something more important than their money to any cause that hits home: Their time. Their talent. Their energy.
When people make that choice to serve, they will almost definitely be blessed like I was. They will meet those talents that personify the word HUSTLE.
Their talent enriches the lives of the people they serve.
I couldn’t imagine better people to surround myself with, and hope others do as well.