Do you like to brag?
If you’re a PARKer (someone who Performs Acts of Random Kindness) I bet the answer is a resounding NO!
My hope is today’s episode and awesome guest will inspire and give you Permission to B.R.A.G. (Be Real And Grateful) about your passion, expertise and the power of kindness in your own life.
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Hi PARKer, I’m Marly Q and you’re listening to Episode #25 with Rachel Ramjattan. Our guest today is not one to toot her own horn so, I shared with her my acronym for B.R.A.G. and gave her Permission to “Be Real And Grateful” about her passion, fundraising expertise and kindness that she generously gives others every day.
Like me, this PARKer believes that kindness and gratitude are the keys to happiness, and her passion is empowering people to change the world. Rachel is a bestselling author, fundraising coach and master trainer with 25 plus years of experience with managing technology, fundraising, development and communications for all kinds of nonprofits. She’s the kind a storyteller you could listen to for hours and one of the few certified fundraising executives who has spoken with countless fundraising and social impact audiences nationwide, which is why I’m so excited you get to experience a little spark of Rachel’s kindness today! Let’s listen.
Welcome, welcome to the show, Rachel, thank you so much for making Time to be Kind today.
[01:21] Rachel: Marly, thank you for having me. You’re one of my favorite people and I love your ministry of kindness. So, this was a total no brainer for me.
[01:29] Marly Q: Oh, thank you. We are each other’s biggest fans so, you’re one of my favorite people too, because you’re a PARKer! From the moment that I met you, I knew I’m like, “This woman is someone who Performs Acts of Random Kindness, she lives, breathes, gives it, exudes it from your being”. We met several years ago. I mean, I think maybe almost a decade ago at a philanthropy event, where you were leading, you were facilitating a workshop on fundraising, and I had just started PARK Project, our nonprofit. And I was just so overwhelmed as to how, you know, how am I going to fundraise as a business; as a sustainable, nonprofit business.
And you know, your presentation was not only super valuable and on point for me, but you stayed afterwards and you kindly offered to answer questions for people that had more, I was one of them, I was waiting in line to connect with you and not only did you just give me your card and add me to your email list, and like the regular things that most you know, presenters do at these events, you actually followed up and you actually made Time to be Kind and learn about my mission and learn about, you know, me wanting to be the spark of kindness and how can I fundraise for something as intangible so to speak, as kindness, right? When other nonprofits have products and services? I’m like, “I have this idea I’m trying to sell to the world. How do I fundraise for this?”, and we sat down at a Starbucks, this was over two years ago, and I think you remember what I was talking about during that conversation. So, I don’t want to share the whole story, but the point is that, you really made an impact right from the start as a PARKer, and I’m just so grateful for you making the Time to be Kind and really connect.
[03:12] Rachel: Well, thank you, Marly. I have just absolutely enjoyed our friendship and, you know, I’m a firm believer that what you put out into the world, come backs to you and you know that and because of your mission. So, you know, the world needs a lot more kindness right now, it always has, but even now, it needs even more. So, the thought of being able to help you spread kindness and help other people tap into that passion they have and change the world in ways that are important to them, that’s really my mission in life so, it comes naturally, just like it does for you.
[03:43] Marly Q: Yes, thank you so much. I see how it comes naturally to you. You know, I talk a lot about the currency of kindness and what I believe the currency of kindness is, is like the most powerful currency that we have, right? Because it comes from this limitless and abundant source that is accessible to all of us; no matter who you are, how many dollars you have in your bank account, what you do for a living, anything, like how old you are, right? The currency of kindness is available to all of us and what I love about the work that you do that you’ve dedicated your life to, so, not only do you teach people how to produce more currency of kindness in the world figuratively, but also literally in the form of dollars and cents, in order to fund their mission and fund their nonprofit businesses and create an even bigger ripple effect, an even bigger currency of kindness worldwide. So, would you share with us a bit about what you do and your passion, how you help people?
[04:38] Rachel: Sure, I’d be delighted to. So, I’m actually a self-taught fundraiser. I fell in love with the field of philanthropy as a little girl, at 12 years old, when I was fundraising with my father, then throughout high school and in my early life, but I was actually trained as a computer engineer, because my father wanted me to study something sensible so, I wasn’t dependent on some man for the rest of my life. So, I spent almost 10 years in the manufacturing sector as a computer engineer, and I was proficient and got glowing reviews, but it didn’t fill me up; it just didn’t make me happy and fill my bucket every day. And so, finally, about 20 years ago, I switched into the nonprofit world and that’s where I’ve been ever since. So, I’m actually a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE), that means that I’ve earned the second highest credential, there are probably about 6,000 of us in the world, not a huge, huge niche, and there are many great fundraisers that don’t have that credential so, it doesn’t mean that one is better than another. But it has given me a platform where people want to engage with me and I think what I love most about the role I have now is, I have the opportunity to teach and coach. So, at heart, I am a personal fundraising coach. I absolutely love to see nonprofits have the money to fully fuel their mission and do more good and I think that’s the role that brings me joy because I learned as much from it as those that work with me learn while they’re working with me. So, it’s a like, our friendship, you know, I’ve made so many friends and I don’t know about you, but people who work in the nonprofit sector tend to be very big hearted and empathetic and so, when you surround yourself with people like that, how can you not be kind to others or be happy?
[06:28] Marly Q: I am with you on that, 100%. And I know that you’re super humble and modest, and I love you for it, but I also love that you love to BRAG. And I don’t know if you know what my acronym for BRAG is, do you?
[06:40] Rachel: I’ve heard it and I can’t remember it.
[06:43] Marly Q: I have so many, I don’t blame you, I am an acronomist at heart.
B.R.A.G. stands for Be Real And Grateful
… and that certification that you shared, you should totally “BRAG” about that because not only is that a very elite certification and makes you one of very, you know, few certified top fundraisers in the world, qualified to teach and coach others, you put time and work into achieving that, right? And I started as an accidental fundraiser also. I was a little girl, I found out kindness was my superpower at 10 and I started fundraising you know, like pennies and nickels and whatever you can get, right? To be able to donate to causes and I consider myself to be a professional fundraiser, all these years later, I’ve raised well over a million dollars for all these charities that I care about, I don’t have any certification, right? I go to the pros like you for guidance and support in order to actually, not just, you know, know how to ask people for money, right? But how to actually create a plan and systems in place in your nonprofit business, in order to generate the income, the funds that you need in order to fund your mission and your nonprofit. So, I love that you shared that and that you bragged about that because I know it doesn’t come easy for you to “BRAG”.
[08:01] Rachel: It doesn’t, but I’m trying to get better at it because I realized that when I sell myself short, I’m selling other short too. If you don’t believe in yourself (and I do believe in myself) but I’m not comfortable bragging about myself. So, I realize that, you know, that sometimes holds people back because some people that need your help, really are looking for those credentials, and that history of success to have the confidence to be able to take a chance on partnering with you. And so, it’s a work in progress, you asked me yesterday, what was one of the things I’m trying to do for myself to be kind or practice kindness to myself, that’s one of them; getting more comfortable affirming myself so that I see my best self and see myself the way others see me. Because that’s been an uphill climb for me.
[08:56] Marly Q: Yes, and for so many people, which is why I wanted to emphasize it and spotlight that because it doesn’t come easy to, I think anybody or most people, especially to the service-driven, you know people that dedicate their lives to whether it’s, you know, an actual nonprofit business or just a side PARK Project or, you know, their actual for profit businesses, it’s a challenge to be able to BRAG and promote yourself and put yourself out there, but if you don’t, right?
If we don’t tap into that courage to BRAG, as I like to say, then we are selling ourselves short and not just ourselves, but the world because we don’t shine that light on the great work that we’re doing and it limits our ability to impact other people.
So, I honor you for working on that deliberately and I hope that those listening can also be inspired by that because we need your light and you need to be the spark so, BRAG! Be Real And Grateful! It’s awesome, once you practice it enough, you get really good at it. This whole podcast is to BRAG about awesome people like you!
[09:55] Rachel: I love it Marly, that spark, you know, what was really funny …
I think a lot have women, more so than men, suffer from something called imposter syndrome where you think, “Who am I to step into this light and help others or put myself out there?”.
And I’ve had two mentors that really held me accountable. One of them, literally a year ago, said to me, “When are you going to own your greatness? Because there’s something special about you, and you are hiding your light under a bushel, because you’re afraid to put yourself out there, and you are what people need. And because you’re holding yourself back, they’re struggling without it.”. And at first, I had to say, I wondered who she was talking to, but it convicted me when I thought about it and meditated a little bit to say, I never saw my role as hiding things under a bushel, you know, people will find you when they really need you but it really convicted me that God has given me many talents and it’s like the parable of the talents. You know, what are you going to do with it? Are you going to be the one that sticks it in the ground so you can get the same amount back? Or, are you going to go and use what he’s given you to do the work he set you on?
And so, she was really the one that pushed me to write my book, which is called, No More Duct Tape Fundraising: The Nonprofit Leader’s Guide to Becoming an Inspirational Fundraiser, and even throughout the process, I knew everything I needed to put in the book, I knew I had the professional street cred, everything to do it, but there’s still a vulnerability there, “What if people don’t like it?”, you know? And I have to say when it launched, I waited with bated breath and I’ve been really humbled by what people say, the most frequent comments I hear is, “I feel like she’s talking exactly to me like, she’s sitting right beside me, hearing every objection or problem I’m struggling with and showing me the path to fixing it.”, and that for me, is very gratifying because it takes courage and guts to put yourself out there, as you know. And as a friend said to me yesterday, sometimes we listen to our fears more than you listen to the courage that’s prompting us. So, it’s okay to feel fearful but we have to take that fear, put it in our back pocket and look forward and move on, you know. So, I’m very lucky that I’ve had people in my life that have encouraged me to step out into the deep when I felt like it wasn’t the most comfortable place in the world, but growth happens outside your zone of comfort, right?
[12:24] Marly Q: 100%. I love this conversation and I hope that our PARKers listening can really resonate, and I’m sure that they are receiving your currency of kindness in your message that I believe is so relevant and so many of us need to hear, men and women alike, but I think you’re right, more so women, kind of really struggle with that. I guess the self-worth and self-value conversation that you just hit the nail on the head. And we had a special guest here on the podcast earlier on this year, Episode #18 and #19, Kemy Joseph, who founded The F.E.A.R.S Advantage, and this man, which I think you may know Kemy Joseph, maybe, we’ll connect.
But Kemy Joseph founded The F.E.A.R.S Advantage, which is all about learning how to use your fears to your advantage, right? And use them as fuel to drive you to do extraordinary actions and systems in your business to create the infinite wealth and impact that you want to make. So, I will certainly connect you two, if you’re not connected to Kemy because everything that you shared right now just really reminds me about the great work that I mean, he’s undergone, we’ve had to under, you know, go down that path together, to really tap into that courage and face that fear and use it to our advantage.
So, this podcast is a testimonial of that, never, you know, did I think I would have the courage to do this but it really inspires me when I tap into you know, the purpose and the why and I know that that’s key ingredient in your– in what you teach to your nonprofits; is the more we are tapped into our why and the mission and why this is so important, the more we can access that courage to face that fear of like, “I don’t want to get behind the microphone”, or, “I don’t want to ask people for money”, or, “I don’t want to promote myself and the good that I’m doing”, and say, “You must”. You must, because you’re leaving other people thirsty for that light and that inspiration and that hope that there are kind people in this world, doing great work every single day and that’s what inspires me so much about the work that you do and your book, because I love the name, by the way, No More Duct Tape Fundraising, please elaborate on that on that title because I think there’s a lot there to unpack.
[14:31] Rachel: Yes, sorry. That was actually given to me by someone that I coached. I was doing the research for the book and I asked them what would be their dream come true, and she said, “No more duct tape fundraising.”, and I just thought it was such an absolutely brilliant way to describe how most of us feel about our fundraising when we’re first learning, so I can’t take credit for it. The credit goes to another PARKer named Carol Mastroianni in Michigan and it really turned out to be a fun title and something that people can embrace and identify with. And I just want to say one thing, Marly, about the imposter syndrome, Tom Hayward is one of the greats when it comes to nonprofit communications, the master of his craft, and I’m actually taking a course with him on using donor psychology in communications right now and he said something about imposter syndrome, that even at 70 years old, he feels it and has to fight against it and he’s thankful for it because that means you’re still humble.
And so, imposter syndrome keeps us humble and keeps us authentic and keeps us kind, so that we always recognize that it’s not about us.
And there’s another famous person who I greatly admire, who references it in her book, and that’s Michelle Obama. So, I figure if Michelle Obama and Tom Hayward can say they too suffer from imposter syndrome and it keeps them humble, we’re in good company, you know? So, we can grow and be kind. And I wanted to share with you one more thing, which is in terms of how kindness impacts your profession and knowing your why, one of my favorite books ever written is Simon Sinek’s book, Find Your WHY, and the basic premise of it is that, many of us speak about what we do or how we do it but we don’t speak about the why.
And when we start with the why, that’s what engages people, people don’t care what you do; they care why you do it.
And so, as I look at what you do and what I do, really we are helping people figure out what is their why and tap into it because once you’re working from your why, you will stop at nothing to get it; you don’t mind the late nights, you don’t mind staying up at three o’clock in the morning after putting the baby back to sleep so, you can finish a project before they wake up at five to get fed again.
[17:04] Marly Q: That’s my life right now!
[17:07] Rachel: Exactly, or like me, you know caring for two generations at once, you know. But it’s so important for us, I think when we know our why, kindness comes naturally. And Maya Angelou said something that is my mantra,
“People will forget what you say, they’ll forget what you do, but they will never forget the way you make them feel.”
and I have yet to meet a single human being that didn’t feel good when someone was kind to them. And so, kindness rules, man.
[17:40] Marly Q: Kindness rules! Yes, it does. You know, we start this podcast with my why, right? I was like, “How do you do an intro to a podcast?”, I’m like, It’s very easy … “because the time to be kind is now”!
That’s the why; because the time to be kind is now.
I believe that time to be kind of always now, but especially I mean, I launched this podcast right in April, right after we were all quarantined and I’m like, “Oh my.”. My mission has been to spread kindness for well over a decade and there has never been a bigger, a more daunting time to spread kindness and be that spark of light and inspiration for the world, through storytelling, through authenticity, right? And I went through all sorts of, you know, mental struggle. Our first episode was overcoming self-doubt, because it took an immense amount of overcoming self-doubt in order to launch this and now, all these episodes later, people are like, “Oh my god, but you should have done this years ago and you know, you’re such a natural.”. And I’m like, “Thank you.”, I receive the compliments and the kindness and it took an immense amount of courage and an immense amount of facing that imposter syndrome and really just being vulnerable and courageous and authentic and showing up, right? Because your mission can, the way, the avenue, the vehicle, as how you perform your mission, right? Mine used to be through live events, clearly 2020 kind of wiped that off my plate but the mission remains the same; the mission is always to spread kindness. So, it forces you to grow and pivot outside of your comfort zone, like you said, in order to find a different way to keep spreading that message, in order to find a different way to still express your why. So, I’m just absolutely loving this conversation and I know that our PARKers listening want to connect with you so, I will make sure to include all of your contact and links to connect with you in our show notes, and you’re so generous to also donate a signed, a personalized copy to one of our PARKers listening, of your book, No More Duct Tape Fundraising.
[19:46] Rachel: I’m delighted to do that Marly and you are really gifted at what you do. When I met you 10 years ago, the thing that drew me in is that mischievous glint in your eye, the huge smile on your face and just your passion. And you know, you can’t fake passion and so …
I think kindness is all about finding your passion, being kind to yourself first, make sure you take the time to find your passion, give yourself permission to chase your dreams and you know, face that fear and press on regardless because what’s the worst that could happen? You know, you fail spectacularly at spreading kindness? Not possible.
[20:26] Marly Q: And you surround yourself with a beautiful community of people that are kind minded, that are automatically drawn to you. You know, a friend of mine says she’s a magnet for awesomeness, I’m like, “I’m a magnet for awesomeness.”, do you have any idea the number of amazing people that I have in my life? This whole podcast, all of these, I know every single guest, I think there’s only been like two “strangers” that I hadn’t met in person yet, that are my friends virtually now, right? Around the nation and actually, around the world, I interviewed somebody all the way from Australia, also on the podcast. But I know that I surround myself or that I magnetize kind-minded people because that’s what I put out in the world and that’s what I mean by the currency of kindness. So, for somebody listening, that is inspired by our conversation, that has their own nonprofit organization or has a dream, a vision of starting one, and you want to get started with a professional, certified fundraising coach on your team, Rachel from Nonprofit Plus Team is the PARKer to connect with! She is just a wealth of support and kindness for you.
So, in order to be eligible to win in this Time to be Kind free prize giveaway, you not only have to leave a review on iTunes, like always, and be a part of my Kind Qrew, but also let us know that you have a nonprofit, let us know what it is, what’s your mission? What’s your cause? And Rachel would be so happy to send you her super helpful book.
[21:50] Rachel: Thank you again Marly. I just want to close with one final thought, every challenge contains opportunities and for people like you, that worked in live events, imagine, the world is now your stage instead of just south Florida because people can tune in from anywhere in the world. And so …
… if we all take a look at this pandemic as something that turned our lives upside down, but search for the opportunities within, even nonprofits have opportunities here, you know, I think the world will emerge a kinder, gentler place and we’ll all be able to smile, give each other a big hug one day and say, “We survived”!
[22:29] Marly Q: We made it. Well, we are collectively giving each other and everybody listening a big virtual hug, a big hug, we’re both hugging ourselves right now. Oh, I hope you feel it. Thank you for being part of the change that we all wish to see in the world. Thank you, Rachel, for making the Time to be Kind and share a bit of your passion, there’s so much more in there that we can unpack but we make these live, virtual events under 30 minutes so that people can actually make the Time to be Kind and implement them in their lives. So, I hope to have you back on the show sometime soon because I know there’s just so much more that we can talk about and share with others.
[23:04] Rachel: Thank you.
[23:06] Outro: I hope you enjoyed this inspiring conversation and found it as enriching as I did. And if so, we’d love to hear you B.R.A.G. in the form of a kind review on iTunes.
And if you want to win your own copy of Rachel’s valuable book, No More Duct Tape Fundraising, all you need to do is be a nonprofit professional looking to master fundraising and join our Kind Qrew for your chance to win this and future podcast prizes!