Well, I got distracted the last couple of days (darn work!) and Jimbo beat me to getting up the news that Patti is a finalist in the America's Favorite Mom contest. More on that in a few, because a few days ago, a comment was made in this post which was frankly disturbing. It was disturbing on several levels, being as it could be and was seen as both a slap at an organization as well as at an individual I consider to be a friend. In further discussions both here and offline, some other comments came forward and I found behind this were some thoughts and concerns I've heard elsewhere. What follows below is not aimed at any one person; rather, it is a response to some thoughts I've been hearing for a while now and that need to be addressed. What follows is part polemic and part rant, but if you are interested in Soldier's Angels you should read on.
These thoughts revolve around the growth of Soldier's Angels and associated changes; and, around the marketing efforts underway. A gross summary/simplification is that Soldier's Angels is rich, getting richer, and why do they need so much money? They've got enough to do more than they are doing, so why go for more? Since I've heard some variants of this for a while now, and have even been told it is why some blogs are no longer participating in the Project Valour-IT drive, I think it is time to consider some things.
First up, Soldier's Angels is not rich. I know of no one in a leadership position there who is making money off it. Period. I know several there who put a heck of a lot into it and often pay for things -- both for SA and for those being supported -- out of their own pocket. I know many in Soldier's Angels who put large amounts of time in as well as money out of their own pocket. For any who think that they are in it to get rich, get recognition, etc., well, get real. I am sure there are some out there who do things for the recognition, but...
It is not rich, and what they are already doing requires a lot of money just to keep doing it. When you realize that money comes in via "fits and spurts" it means that trying to keep all the balls in the air can get interesting.
It was also putting as much of the money raised as possible directly to those being supported. It did not have a paid staff. That they have had to hire some people to do the accounting and such is both a good thing on the one hand, and a bad thing because of why. The root of that why revolves around complaints and sniping from those out to harm SA because of what it is and what it does. Because, frankly, it has been successful and there are those out there who see that as a threat, a slap, and somehow making them feel less.
Soldier's Angels is seeking more money. The money is needed to meet its current obligations, and to answer yet another challenge sent it's way: you do for this group, why not for that group or for more?
Well, here's your answer. Go watch the entire thing. Go on, this will be here when you get back.
When SA first started, the needs were small and people pitching in got things done. Early donations worked the same way. Yet, more was asked and Patti does not like to tell anyone no. So, more requests for donations went out.
During this time, it was decided, not without some trepidation I am sure, to enter contests and such to raise larger sums. Patti, as founder, was (and is) often nominated for contests. This wasn't for ego boo, it was to raise money to do things for out troops and those who have served. Doing this has earned SA money and has raised its profile so that another level of donor has come in. That Patti gets credit for starting Soldier's Angels and doing all she does despite pain and problems is not a bad thing. For, the fact is, Patti is always generous with the credit, and I have heard her extol the people of SA when speaking, or even accepting something on their behalf.
Yet, the needs keep growing. SA is having to explore new options to meet all the needs that are out there. One method are the donation letters that a number of people have b*****d to me about. The fact is, that even though they go to most or all of the original donors, they are not aimed at that group. They are aimed at people and organizations in a very different bracket. Going after those sources does not mean that those of us who can only do small amounts and time are not needed; nor does it in any way denigrate what we have done and what we do. The people who do what they can, as they can, and when they can are still the base; but, remember that bases -- foundations -- are meant to be built upon.
That is exactly what SA is doing. The small group of friends and acquaintances has grown to more than 180,000 volunteers. The scope has grown as well, and lest anyone thing SA is reinventing the wheel, just look at some of the other organizations with which SA routinely works.
No, it's not what it was when it was a smaller organization. It is doing more for more, and that does mean change.
Some people don't like change. Some don't like it when organizations in which they feel membership or even ownership grow and change, and take things in new directions. As a result, some people get upset, some leave, and some , well, some decide to see if maybe things will get even better. Change is a constant, and it need not be a negative or even seen as a negative. How we see change is up to us. Some see it as an enemy. Some see it as an opportunity.
I see change in the future of SA. Good change, that means more support for those who serve and those who have served. I see it as going to a new level. It will not be easy or comfortable in some respects, for change and growth are rarely those things.
As you ponder these words, please go watch these videos of Patriot Guard Riders, Lynette Roncin, Jeff Bader, Robert Stokely, Bonnie Averett, Teresa Younkers, Dee Jurge, Bob Wells, Some Bozo, MaryAnn Phillips, Opal J. Rieras, and Debby Frerichs.
Then, go watch the video above again. Yes, SA is changing and the goals are huge. For me, while change makes me nervous on some levels, I want to see them succeed. I want VALOUR-IT to continue to grow and the fundraising challenge flourish as it is critical to maintaining, much less growing. Doing that means that everyone, from a dime a week donor to a letter writer to a large donor are needed. We are each critical.
As for me, I am off to DC as this posts to
break my butt and knees ride with some real heros.
Congratulations Patti. For with your advancing to the finals, so does SA. That is what truly matters.