The project I can’t seem to make progress on.

By Monica Pagani, Program Specialist, Ka Joog

When I sat down to write this blog post, I begin by reflecting on the past eight months. What have I accomplished? What do I still hope to do? Have I been a successful VISTA or will any of this even matter in a year’s time?

For reasons better left unsaid, it certainly has been a hectic year. And while I believe I have been able to do a lot in these past eight months, there is one project that I just haven’t been able to make any progress on – planning the annual fundraiser.

One of the main projects listed on my VAD was to create an event-planning manual and plan an annual fundraising event. This project started out promising and was something I was eager to take on in the early months of my VISTA year. It was the organization’s 10th Anniversary and all of my supervisors, coworkers, and the volunteers seemed to be totally on board to plan a wonderful event. 

Along with help from my supervisors, we were able to secure a great venue, use a caterer of our choosing, and got a good discount on the space. I began writing the “Event Planning Manual.” As I secured the contract in early October, things continued to seemingly “fall into place.”

However in the following months things began to stall. In January, Ka Joog rejected a large grant; the organization began to rapidly shift priorities away from any sort of 10th anniversary celebration. It quickly became clear that this 10th annual fundraiser was not going to happen as originally envisioned by the team. Not willing to give up the venue quite yet, we quickly brainstormed on how to leverage the space in order to fundraise money lost due to the rejected grant. We quickly put together a fundraising campaign, did outreach, and set up a fundraising committee. Still, progress continued to drag when it became clear that scheduling issues were not going to make an April 29th fundraiser feasible. And a few weeks ago, I regretfully canceled the venue reservation and lost an entire security deposit.

With only a few months left in the year, the team has renewed its efforts to make an event happen by enlisting help from close friends and a professional fundraiser. While this experience is still ongoing, I have been learning some a few things about working at a nonprofit. Be flexible; don’t get frustrated when things don’t go your way; and the importance of having a strong support system and team.