I'm writing this piece out of a lot of frustration at work. There is a particular person (who I shall refrain from naming out of kindness) who always seems to be "nervous" about something when we want to generate activity on a new program or ask for partnership in a new venture. One of the things that my job entails is overseeing our Cans for Habitat program. Here in Kansas City, I've figured out that if each person recycles only 10 cans for our program, we'll have enough money to build a family a new house. I know a lot of people who drink more than 10 cans of soda a week so this should be easy!
On Thanksgiving Day, the Kansas City Star newspaper did a front page article on easy ways that people are helping their favoritie organizations that don't involve writing a check (since money is tight for everyone these days). Lisa Solvay, one of our program regulars, was featured and it's gotten a lot of feedback to my email. I have been wanting to really get this program going but there has always been some reason why the timing wasn't quite right before. Now that I'm getting emails from businesses and people all over the metro area, it seems like the time to really do it -- but wait. One of the things I'd like to do is talk with local retailers or distributors about donating some plastic garbage cans that withstand outdoor conditions to collect cans. Right now we offer free bins and liners to people who want to collect cans for us, but they are made of cardboard and don't last long outside. We can't even use them on our construction sites for volunteers who are drinking soda on site. If I could get, say 10 Rubbermaid trash cans, we could cut holes in the lid to make it clear they are for cans (not trash), and we'd have a sturdy, weatherproof collection bin that could go on our construction sites and be offered to those offices that don't have enough indoor space to add another bin. I have one such business I'm working with right now and I know that people in our office have connections with some local retailers who sell Rubbermaid trash cans but if I mention that I'd like to ask them for in-kind donations, I get shot down.
"I don't know - I'm nervous about asking people for things that are going to a program that isn't really fleshed out yet. We don't know how we're getting those cans yet and what do we do when those trash cans that were donated all get stolen?" This is what I'm up against. I've tried to explain that if we can't offer this option, people may not even collect the cans in the first place. Once they collect the cans we can work out how we're going to transport them to our office (whrer we have a dumpster). At least that's how I see it. I'm not a haphazard kind of person - I don't just do things without any kind of plan in place, but you can't plan out for every contingency ahead of time before you even ask for the basics to get the program off the ground!! Am I off base here? What can I do to overcome these fears that are killing my program before it ever gets going? How do I deal with a co-worker who is uncomfortable asking anyone for anything when we're a non-profit and the economy is putting us in more of a bind that usual? HELP!