At some point in our lives, we all get caught up in projects that are a little beyond our comfort zone. That’s the position that Jewell Mitchell found herself in while she served as the Executive Director of a YWCA on Canada’s East Coast.
Jewell had never embarked on a capital campaign before, but it was something she’d have to take on to create the proposed housing and support center envisioned to support young moms.
Pulling together the dream team
To kickstart the campaign, Jewell pulled together a taskforce made up of experienced fundraisers and local movers and shakers. It turned out to be an impressive crew with deep connections to local businesses and affluent residents.
But even with the dream team in place, the journey got off to a rocky start.
Lacking experience in capital campaigns herself, Jewell allowed the experts in the group to take more control of the project. Without realizing it, those stepping up to command the project were alienating the very ones they were trying to help. Instead of empowering the women within the group, it was now turning them into bystanders.
Coming up against challenges to your values
“This all led to an incredibly difficult crossroads,” said Jewell. “If I called out some of the patriarchal underpinnings, there was a real risk that millions of dollars could walk out the door. So, I was left with a choice… do I raise $1 million for the women around the campaign table? Or do I raise $3 million in absence of it?”
After some deep soul searching, Jewell decided to make the tough call to confront the group. Despite millions of dollars hanging in the balance, she knew her first obligation wasn’t to the almighty dollar, but to the women and families under her wing.
Embracing the difficult conversations
“It definitely ruffled some feathers, and there was a lot of discomfort,” adds Jewell. “But we ultimately created an environment that worked for everyone. Nobody walked and we wound up hitting our original $3M goal. Despite the challenges and the initial friction, we rose together to achieve something I was told was an impossibility.”
It’s a great example of how meeting a number doesn’t always mean meeting your goal if you go about it the wrong way.
Sometimes, maintaining your values is just as important as hitting your targets.
And in this case, Jewell putting her foot down allowed the campaign to achieve both.
To hear the full 20-minute episode “How you choose to do the work IS the work”, listen wherever you get your podcasts or online HERE.
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