Today is Day #1 of earning an independent consulting fee with Hamomi. I've been a bit surprised by how many people heard I'm going full time and didn't realize how this worked before now. I have been a Hamomi volunteer since October, 2007. An average day was 9 AM - 3 PM with Hamomi and 3 PM - 7 PM nannying. (Also many days included an additional babysitting shift til midnight or so.) I am endlessly thankful to the families I nannied for - they are huge supporters and wonderful friends. But that being said, it was really difficult.
However, a fee for my work has always felt complicated.
It feels the same to spend a lot of money to put on a major fundraiser. If everybody just gave me the money instead of having the fundraiser, we'd raise $10-$15,000 more than we do. Do you know what I could do with that money? Do you know how many people that would benefit? But I try not to fall into that rabbit hole, because the truth is that nobody will give me the kind of money we raise without the fundraiser. It would be beautiful if they did, but that's asking for people to donate on faith without me putting in any of the work to prove that we are organized, know how to market ourselves, can speak articulately about what we do, can sell you our story, etc. That's why people donate - and donors are not wrong for behaving that way - that's just how it works. But writing big checks to hire caterers and rent banquet halls will always feel unsettling.
So I guess it's just about accepting how things work.
The goal is to be obsolete so that Hamomi-Kenya doesn't need Hamomi-USA or any foreign donations for that matter, but we're not there yet. So for now Hamomi-Kenya needs Hamomi-USA and therefore a better Hamomi-USA makes a better Hamomi-Kenya. For example, today was my first official full-time day with the only stress-free time to get things done that I've ever had and I wrote personal emails and notes to every donor who I received a donation from. I shared with them what their donation really does. I let them know I'm here, that we're small, that their donation matters and that they can contact me directly any time.
In the last five and a half years, this is the first day I have had the time to do that - no exaggeration. And it will make Hamomi better. Those people are already emailing back their thanks for the personal emails and phone calls. Those people are already impressed and visiting the website and reading this blog post I have the time to write. Those people understand on a deeper level the personal impact their donation makes at Hamomi so much better than they did when all they received was an automated message from Lift Up Africa. Those people feel good today about their donation and I feel good about opening up dialogue with them.
In the past I would have been dreading actually getting a phone call from one of them with a question, because who had the time for a phone call? Now I welcome those calls. I want those challenging questions and those drawn out conversations over coffee. I want the push and pull that is integral to a truly grassroots, community project.
This is not to mention that the other half of my job isn't even administrative. Half of my job is program development, long term sustainable investing, forming partnerships with organizations to donate their services to Hamomi, being in Kenya and conducting our internal auditing and planning workshops, etc. Mostly: preparing the Hamomi-Kenya team for a future where Hamomi-USA is obsolete.
If an income means that my time in Kenya will be spent without my freaking out over an empty bank account, that I can actually go for whatever length of time is required by Hamomi's needs, that a text from Raphael, Hamomi's founder, will never come in at an inopportune time because I'm babysitting or too exhausted to think about Hamomi; if this means that when I reach out to a partnership organization and they can only meet after 3 PM, I don't have to say no, then this income isn't complicated at all.
So, when I look at the flat amount on that monthly check, I will not think of it as a flat amount that I would have done so much with. Because now it is a dynamic amount that I will do so much more with. That is just how it works, and I'm learning to not only accept, but welcome how things work.