The tale of two meetings

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In my last entry, I mentioned how the priorities at Help-Portrait Fort Lauderdale have been shifting.

- First, we needed to create some cloth

- After we had a sizable group, we needed a venue and a way to attract people for the event

- Once we locked in our partnership with The Salvation Army (Thanks to Lilly Gallardo, Director of Social Services!) we needed more photographers and makeup artists!

So as they say "the only constant is change" and what it is to learn here, is that the importance of things is relative to your current status. The same is true in life and for all these people at The Salvation Army.

Right now we are at a stage where we need to find a way to print the portraits. So far, all attempts to find a partner who would give away the printing for free, or for a generous discount have failed or hit the "I have to talk to our corporate office wall".

Because of this (and while we continue to work on finding a partner!) our only viable option for now is to pay for the prints, and we start adding up all the supplies, the number exceeds $1,000. So it is our priority now to get enough sponsors and individual donations to make this happen. As of today, we have $234, that gets us about 1/4 of the way there, but a 1/4 of the way is not good enough!

So for those who like to keep us honest, I just wanted to give you a quick idea on how this works. The funds that you donate at go straight to the Help Portrait organization who has applied for 501c3 status. So your donation is fully deductible as a charity and your service hours are valid for school, etc. For us, The Soul Catchers, it means that we have to step to the front, pay for the expenses and then after we submit our report, the Help Portrait organization reimburses us for the expenses.

So donate in confidence, not only all of us are committed to the event and want to GIVE, but also there is no way we could use the funds otherwise, the Help Portrait initiative is a legitimate charity and the checks and balances are in place.

So let me tell you about two meetings I had yesterday:

These are not in chronological order, the first one actually happened at the end of the day, but in order to end up with a positive note, I want to talk about this one first. This is a business-man meeting, or at least of some people who like to call themselves like that. They are owners of "Small Business", and in this case I think "Small" is appropriate, not because of their revenue levels, but because of their failure to think big! I approached several of them and as self-absorbed as they were, you could tell they had tuned me out the minute (minute no, THE SECOND) they realized that I was not a prospective client.

By contrast, that morning I went to a networking group, with the intention of getting local small businesses to sponsor the event. I explained to the event coordinator what Help-Portrait is about and gave her a couple of examples from last year's experience. She agreed to give me a very generous 45 seconds. So when my turn came, I made my pitch. I started telling everybody that I was not there to promote myself or my photography business, but about a charity event. I explained them what the event was about and then I walked them through on what we assembled so far (believe me, it is no small fate!). Finally I looked around and said: "we are missing one thing: the actual prints!, when you do the numbers it exceeds $1,000, How many people are here? 30? 40? If anybody in this room gave $1, that would be good for 8 families!"

Then, the most amazing thing happened. A tipping point, the removal of awkwardness. One lady (sorry, I don't have her name!) stepped up and with a bill in her hand said: "I will give you $1!". From that point everybody started to give me cash!

This group also does a cash raffle, the coordinator asked if he could donate another $5 and on top of that, I WON another $5! So total, I ended up with $59 on the spot, plus I don't know how many referrals.

What a difference!

The learning, stay on message, tell the story, pick the appropriate people, don't ask for money right off the bat, and most important, don't give up. This is not about us, is about the people we will be photographing on December 10th, and if you give up, they are the ones to loose.

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