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Why It’s Fun, and Valuable, to Get Scrappy

Posted Natalie Swan on 11/29/2016 |

Giving Back

As a Girls on the Run SoleMate, Natalie Swan used creative thinking and collaboration with a friend to come up with a fun and effective way to meet her goal. Learn more about SoleMates here. Natalie is also a member of Gamma Phi Beta Sorority, a national partner of Girls on the Run. Learn more about how Gamma Phi Beta supports joyful, healthy and confident girls

For the past five years, I have had the pleasure of working at a startup company. Today, the company is 10 years old, but the entrepreneurial spirit and expectation of innovation and creativity still drives everyday thinking. Smaller companies need scrappy problem solvers willing to roll their sleeves up and dive into the task at hand. More of my professional education has come from this approach than all my schooling combined. 

While training for the 2015 Chicago Marathon, I chose to fundraise for Girls on the Run. The message of empowering young girls through running spoke to me and I wanted to make a difference. Fundraising proved tough, especially since many of my friends and peers got involved in other organizations trying to accomplish their fundraising goals. Realizing I needed to infuse creative, out-of-the-box thinking, I got together with a best friend of mine. She also runs marathons and works for the same company, and we started brainstorming. Throughout our careers, creative thinking led to success. We’d always applied it to challenges professionally – why not now? So, we got thinking.

Two weeks later, we had hundreds of dollars in donations, a Facebook group, and committed friends ready to support our causes. It was simple: we didn’t have money or resources to contribute. But other people did. We called every local business we could think of, emailed follow ups, reached out to an old boss, walked into restaurants, and found treasures around our apartments we no longer needed. When people witness your hard work for an important cause, especially one you believe in, they want to help.

We hosted a backyard fundraising party and promoted it to our friends at work, invited contacts on Facebook, and marketed our incredible raffle prizes. We asked for donations at the door, and left educational materials near the donation box so everyone understood the purpose of the party. A table positioned in the center of the main room housed all the donations we’d received – and the prizes that everyone hoped to leave with that day. Providing our guests numerous opportunities to donate allowed everyone to contribute at their comfort level. Making the event fun and engaging with the displayed prizes and hourly raffle drawings added to the excitement. At the end of the day, for a few hours work that resulted in spending time with our supportive friends, we’d each raised hundreds of dollars. Not too shabby. 

You have a lot more resources than you think, and can make a project successful by determining a goal and then brainstorming different ways to accomplish it. I take great confidence and pride in my clever problem solving. It’s more fun, and often leads to amazing results!


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