Monday, August 28, 2017

It's a Good Grind

I often sit at my desk "grinding" through names, desperately trying to find the “stories” that connect our donors to our organization.  The work can be intensive.  Trying to piece together the relationships and eliminate the duplicate records and all the things that go along with the process of learning each story takes time. There's lots of steps and every now and then the process feels overwhelming.  Sometimes, I just lean back in my chair and take a deep breath.  Then, I keep going because in the meantime, “people are dying.”

That’s a phrase straight from our founder's lips.  I remember standing in Pam's office some time ago, venting a bit about something and Pam just said, “In the meantime, people are dying.”  Those words echo in my head every day.  It’s why I Wage Hope.

I just found Samuel today.  He lost his mom – Phyllis .  He wrote this on the PurpleStride page dedicated to her...  “This past March Pancreatic Cancer took my mother Phyllis Taylor, way before she or I were ready. The disease does not care who you are or how you have lived because my Mom was one of the kindest, overall great people to ever grace this planet with her presence. I, along with so many, miss her dearly. She has and continues to have such a huge and positive impact on my life. She is definitely proud of the way my family has showed resilience and bonded together during this time of mourning.”

“Unfortunately, the money that has been raised to this point could not save my Mom's life, but it could potentially save the life of a person you love. Please join us in this fight to end what is undeniably one of the worst types of cancer. “

As I connected him in RE (our database) to his mom and dad, I whispered… “ I got you Sam.”  I was basically sying "I understand and I'm here for you."

His dad just made a nice gift. That's what started me on this particular journey... to see how we might engage the family even more. To do that, it all starts with "the story" - the details of why someone is engaged with us.

It can be incredibly hard to read these stories day in and day out.  That being said – it’s harder to lose someone to cancer…

That’s why I grind away.  I may never meet Sam, but I have his “back.”  Sam is only 25.  He’s raised $2,050 so far.  The team has raised $8,335.  They’re all having an impact. 

I came to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network to have an impact, but the organization, the leadership, the patients, the volunteers, the donors, my colleagues and their stories continue to have an impact on me.  I can’t stop.  I need to keep grinding.

To get to the point where we are raising $50 million a year,  it’s going to take a monumental effort.  We have to grind through a lot of names just to find the ones who can become more engaged at a deeper level.  Then we have to reach them, engage them and eventually ask them.  Picture a huge funnel that is wide at the top and narrow at the bottom.  It’s hard work.  

There are thousands of stories in our database waiting to be discovered and more importantly - to be heard. I am on a mission to learn them one person a time.  Each story helps us find ways to better engage our constituents and at the same time, further our mission.

I know everyone at my organization is doing their part.  It’s inspiring to be in this fight with each of them. 

Together, we Wage Hope.


  1. Very inspiring and uplifting quote. Keep up the good work!

  2. great piece! thanks for taking the time to write this, James.