It’s time we met
It’s been a while, so I think it’s time we met. I’m the woman behind the words. Yes, that’s me that sends you those emails, writes those broadcasts, and those all-important texts. Sometimes you hear my voice as you open your post, or scroll through your inbox. I’m what you call a behind-the-scenes girl; best behind a screen, you can find my voice in between paragraphs and full stops; just where I like it.
You see, I’m a writer, I connect to my reader through my words, through hidden meanings in lengthy paragraphs and within 160 characters. Breaking out of that cocoon feels unnatural, difficult, but pinnacle for my own growth, I later learnt. It was my time to emerge, and reluctantly I did.
You see, I’ve worked at HHUGS for two years and have never attended a HHUGS event. Partly due to the pandemic, but being brutally honest, mostly because I felt I wasn’t a ‘born’ fundraiser. Put simply, it made me uncomfortable asking others to donate; I was fearful of not being able to reach my target, It stemmed from a lack of experience; I just hadn’t done it before, so I didn’t really know what I was missing out on.
I was surrounded by family, friends and colleagues who would share pages on their social media, and I was happy to help, as long as I didn’t need to join. At times I was torn; I was constantly encouraging others to fundraise, to take on a challenge to help others, when I didn’t. I would silence those concerns, justifying my actions by believing that my written work would encourage others, and that that was enough.
However, things changed in October. It was coming up to two years working for HHUGS, and with restrictions easing, we were able to once again plan events. We were organising the Alps Archery Challenge in Docklands which peaked my interest. I’m on the competitive side, and as I wrote the copy and researched more about how combat archery works, I was interested. This interest soon dissipated, as I learnt that there was a fundraising target to meet.
Fast forward to the last few days before the event, and the office was filled with pre-event excitement. Making sure we had enough prizes, enough leaflets, enough baklava as a post event treat, and of course, enough participants. Even if I wanted to sign up, by this point I believed it was far too late. I had little experience fundraising, I left it too last minute, and there is no way I would be able to reach my target in a few weeks, let alone a few days or so I thought.
And of course, the behind-the-scenes persona kicked in. After all, I didn’t attend events, nor fundraise; I just wrote about it afterwards, and I was quite happy with that, right?
Something changed on that day; I’m not sure if it was the coffee I drank (I’m usually a tea lover), the excitement of those surrounding me, or the inquisitive-competitive part of me that wanted to be there, on the day, immersed in it.
And so I did; I signed up to the event, and registered to fundraise. I had around 3-4 days to hit my target, I set it at the required amount of £150, and it began from there.
Although it may seem as though I pushed past the main hurdle, it was far from over. Although I had decided to fundraise, I had to push past my fear of sharing my page, of asking others to donate. For a few hours, I didn’t share it with anyone. I left it there, silently praying an anonymous generous soul would find my page, and donate the whole amount. To my surprise, when this didn’t happen, I shared it firstly with my safe circle: my closest family and friends.
To those who fundraise regularly, or do not have the concerns of sharing their page it may seem simple enough, when in reality it can be daunting. Minutes after I sent it, even to my safe circle, I was tempted to delete my message (I’m sure that’s why WhatsApp now has that feature, for all of those who are anxious fundraisers, like me!) As I was about to delete it, I got an encouraging message from a loved one; well, the message was partly encouraging, partly sarcastic, as I was met with an ‘oh my, finally’. Either way it made me smile, and it was my first donation.
I felt elated as I got my first supporter, then my mind raced to how this amount would benefit HHUGS families. It wasn’t a huge amount, but if I did reach my target it would go towards helping vulnerable families during Winter. This is when things changed for me, I was looking at it all wrong. What Allah has written for these families, they will receive; whether I fundraise or not. I am merely a vessel, and privileged enough to be in a position where I will gain the rewards as each donation is made.
Within a few hours, and then a few days I had exceeded my target. Each time I got an email, I rushed to see how far I was up on the league table. As each donation was made, I thought of what HHUGS families could benefit from. Warmer bedding, warmer clothing, food vouchers, and it was down to the decision I made to fundraise. I’d love to tell you I raise a whopping amount, that’s why I wrote this blog, but in reality, I raised just over my target, and raised £230.
But this blog is slightly different, the lesson isn’t in the amount I raised. It is about how I stepped out of my comfort zone, how I surpassed my limit and how it taught me the most important lesson. Often we think about fundraising as our way of benefiting others, when in fact we are the ones who are benefiting. As I said, we are merely vessels; what is written by Him, they will receive, but if we are lucky enough to be offered an opportunity to be a part of that we should grab it with both hands.
It took me two years to understand this, to feel the elation of when each penny and pound is donated knowing it was truly benefit someone. To be a part of something bigger, and for once, not from behind a screen. It doesn’t mean I’m still not afraid of fundraising, nor that I’m going to take part in every future event, but truly, it was a great feeling to fundraise, and to take part.
So whether you’re like me and you have always been hesitant to sign up, or whether you’re a pro at fundraising then we would love to have you on board this Winter.
Take your first step, be a vessel for good.