Setting big goals for your organization can be daunting. Are your plans and projections realistic? Are you reaching too far? Not far enough?
Getting to that “sweet spot” of planning and projections feels comfortable. But, as we chatted about in last week’s episode, that’s not a real commitment. Commitment happens when you land in the zone of uncertainty—enough that you aren’t sure if you can make it happen but certain enough that you can’t NOT make it happen.
And here’s the deal… all of this stems from your place of BEing rather than what you are DOing.
See, most of us start from the position of DOing when looking at the outcomes we would like to create. However, when one shifts that perspective and approaches every moment from the perspective of BEing, magic happens.
On today’s episode, I speak with Sobia Zafar, who is on the board of the Taaleem Foundation, a nonprofit based in Pakistan that brings education to those who need it the most. They currently have eight schools in the country and have a goal to raise $12 million in the next three to five years to help improve infrastructure and promote educational change in the region.
Sobia is committed to making this happen. Her father founded the schools and she is helping to take them to the next level with this round of capital that will enable them to expand, improve infrastructure, and level up the services they provide.
During our conversation, she recognized the power of BEing when compared to simply having another to-DO list.
If your organization is looking to level up, this conversation shows a way to evaluate what you have working for you and how to start adding elements to your organization’s success.
I hope you enjoy our talk as much as I did.
Sobia Zafar Coaching
Don’t make a to-do list, today, make a to-be list.
Take inspired and disciplined action.
Listen to the podcast here:
SofiaZabar: I would say, take inspired action. Like in the moment I feel inspired that we should do that event and you reconnected me with what we did about 10 years ago, and I could see what we achieved after that. So thank you for reminding me. So I feel inspired that that’s the way to go and that gives me a whole new direction.
StuSwineford: are you looking for ways to shorten your marketing, learning curve and help your organization survive? Welcome to relish this, the purpose marketing podcast, a show for purpose focused leaders who want to use marketing techniques to fuel their organization’s growth. If you’re a returning listener and you haven’t subscribed already, we love to have you also please consider leaving a review wherever you listen to podcasts.
Now here’s your host, author and marketing specialist, Stu swine Ford.
My guest today is an amazing woman named Sofia Zabar and she is on the board of a really cool organization in Pakistan that is bringing education to those who need it. Most. They have eight schools that they’ve created over the last three. And they are trying to raise about $12 million in the next three to five years to help improve infrastructure and bring them out even more change than what they’ve already created there in the, in the region.
Sophia is she’s on the board. She is inquisitive and amazing. She’s following in her father’s footsteps and is, is really. Helping to facilitate some, some very positive change. We have. Great discussion just about how they can level up this opportunity to, to get people, to invest in their organization, everything from partnerships to sponsorships, to just build building relationships.
And I think that there’s a ton of great information and. And the things that, that almost any non-profit could take from this conversation, as you’re trying to figure out how to scale your donations and ability to, to build revenue for your organization. So I hope you have a really fun time listening to this show.
It’s it’s a really good one. And here we go.
Good morning, Sylvia. How are things in Sydney? Good mornings
SofiaZabar: too. It would be a nice. Serine started the day.
StuSwineford: Rainy start to the day. Nice. Well, I’m really excited to have you on the show. For a couple of reasons, one, you do a lot of coaching and I’m starting to do more coaching myself. And so it’s always, it’s always fun and fantastic.
To speak with someone who’s done leadership coaching and, and things of that nature, but also to talk about your foundation that you have in that you’re on the board of, in, in Pakistan the Darlene foundation. So tell, tell us a little bit more about you and your background and, and how the Dalene foundation got.
SofiaZabar: Briefly about me, our work as a leadership and organizational change strategist. And I worked with the United nations with the financial industry and many continents across the globe. So I’m basically from Pakistan. I spent quite a few years about a decade in Switzerland and now almost a decade in Australia.
That’s my background. And I’m a mother of two beautiful children, which is what inspires me to get up every day and be the best version. Coming back to Tallinn foundation Talley foundation has about eight schools in tribal regions of Pakistan, which was started about 34 years ago. First crew school was established in 1988 and we were the first providers of education in those remote regions.
So I’m talking about regions boarding academy. So given the, upon the science situation, you can imagine how remote those areas must have been about three decades ago. And there was almost no education for girls at that time. There was no concept of, co-education. And in Pakistan, English is the official language and auto is our national language.
So in those parts of the country, English was not very common. So our star, our schools were like, we started teaching with a mix of English and to. So it wasn’t received really well in the beginning, but then like social change through education is what our experiments study has been. And in the three decades, we have seen the the socioeconomic and the cultural front of those little towns totally transformed.
And even the girls who did not go into work, the kind of mothers that they become educated, informed. So that’s a big achievement. I would say that’s where we are. And I’m looking for your advice and help on how can we to our organization has really suffered during COVID times because as schools were closed for a whole year, And now that we’re getting back on our feet, our self sustaining model has been a little bit impacted as well.
A lot of our infrastructure needs upgrading, obviously that needs fund and so far, but the self-sustaining model that we’ve been very proud of. I think it’s time to actually start spreading our wings and scaling up and really look into what is.
StuSwineford: Right. So tell me a little bit about the self-sustaining model.
How, how has that worked in the, in the past, in terms of, of gathering the funds that you need to keep the schools running?
SofiaZabar: So our school fee for the children, the monthly fee was a very reasonable that students could afford it, but that was enough to run the schools. And I think the main contributing factor was that we own most of our buildings and infrastructure.
So we didn’t have any lease or rents to. What did we did have to pay we’re running expenses like the bills, electricity bill or the teacher’s salaries. Also, most of our teachers came from all over the country, so we had to provide residents for them. So we own the residence space as well. And most of his pants to the people who donated in the beginning from those cities, like the local tribal leaders, and sometimes the government will do notate that line.
StuSwineford: Okay. So you were getting some, some assistance from the government, as well as through, through just donations. And then you said that the schools themselves are fee-based. Is that so there’s tuition. Okay. Yeah. I mean, it sounds like these were run well, you had the benefit of owning, owning the buildings, which is, which is amazing.
But they’re, they’re run pretty lean. Not, didn’t take a lot to, to keep the school up and running and, and Is that correct? Or is it, or were you always bringing in other donations to help support? No, we
SofiaZabar: didn’t bring it to the nations. Sometimes. If he did have donation, we use those to pay fee for those students who couldn’t afford it, like orphans, for example.
And we have had some great individual sponsors, like one individual sponsoring, for example, sometimes about a hundred orphan children. Okay. Yeah. So that’s been. But it hasn’t it’s been, it’s been good, but I don’t, I wouldn’t say that it has been the best, but very proud of like how we have managed because we were waiting focused on operations, not so focused on raising funds.
StuSwineford: Understood. And so the climate has changed a little bit. You need more, more revenue to help keep these schools open and, and expand your programs. And then in 20, I’m assuming 20 starting in 2020, you had to shut schools down.
SofiaZabar: That impacted the revenue that was coming in
StuSwineford: as well. Yeah. Yeah, because you had no, no tuition being paid and et cetera.
SofiaZabar: because kids were away from school for so long and there was no online schooling at that time because they mostly don’t have devices at home. So they have missed out on like a whole regular academic year. So we need to make up for that too. So there’s additional work to be done with the children.
StuSwineford: So how, how much are you hoping to raise? What, what are, what are some of the targets that you’re, that you’re looking to reach?
SofiaZabar: So in an ideal scenario, I requested the team to give me some numbers this week, and we are looking at about 12 $12 million in the next two to five years. Okay. Yeah. And that would help us upgrade our libraries, our computer labs, our science labs on pre-structured.
They need be to pay fee for additional or students who cannot afford it. And also sometimes like, you know I think at the moment we are we could use some funds to pay for teacher salaries as well. So it would contribute to all of that. And as you can imagine, most of our buildings are three tickets that.
StuSwineford: So there’s some infrastructure of grades needed. Yeah. Yeah.
SofiaZabar: And sometimes even sports facilities, because post is a key part of our program and education delivery as well. And so I think another thing that I would mention that these schools were started by my father and his colleagues who were working at the government at that time.
So they did have access to do their own because they would be in charge as a way of governing or running the. And their specific role at that time. So they did have access to a lot of resources with the utilize to the best, to deliver to the communities in terms of education. And it all came together.
It became a movement. But now my father, because he’s retired from his government job and a lot of co-founders have as well. So they have more time now to give to the organization, which is. That’s okay. I think we are more more focused and more energized to scale things up now, because previously they were doing it along with their regular government jobs.
Now they’re fully into it.
StuSwineford: Right. So I’m assuming that they have a pretty strong network of, of connections that they could lean on for. For assistance and for spreading the word, is that accurate?
SofiaZabar: We do what we do. Lack is a strategy or a system. Okay.
StuSwineford: Okay. Well that is something that can be created. So I’m excited to talk through some opportunities and some ideas for you.
So what, what’s the typical year, I’m trying to understand the gap that you currently have. So if you’re looking for 12 million over the next two to five years, so that’s between six and 1.5 million a year, I guess something like that. Where, where are you? Where are your current revenue sit? Where, where do you, what’s your base?
SofiaZabar: This may not sound. Yeah, I think we will start with doodle given where we are. Yeah.
StuSwineford: Gotcha. So we need to figure out how to raise 12 million over the next five years.
SofiaZabar: Yes. Because whatever is coming in, in terms of donation is already being utilized somewhere. It’s like, there’s nothing sitting in the bank account that we are thinking what to do.
StuSwineford: Okay. Great. So we basically, we just need to, to get from where we are now to to 12 million. So in terms of, of those communities, are there opportunities to. To tap into existing relationships, existing you know, people who have either maybe come up through the school system in the past. Essentially the lowest hanging fruit for most organizations lies in the ways to engage and activate existing relationships.
So instead of going out and saying, okay, well, how do we get. However many people excited about this to start. The, the strategy here or the tactic here is to try to re-engage those people who are already familiar with and fans of your organization. So that would probably be where. Where I would recommend starting and leveraging the, the thrust and the momentum that you gain from that to really escalate engagement over the next, say three to five years.
So if we could get. Some good solid wins in the first couple of years. And basically say, you know, we raised you know, a million dollars in, in 20, 22, and then you can turn that into $2 million in 20 2023. And then exponentially increase that just because you now have the ability to talk about those wins and share those with.
With an ever growing number of people who become familiar with your organization. So I would say the first place to go is to is, is in that re-engagement and coming up with a plan to leverage your father’s connections, as well as all of the people who helped found the organization over the last 30 years to try and motivate them.
Their friends, their family, their connections to start gathering funds. So to, to start soliciting donations, as well as start soliciting networking opportunities to spread that word. Do you believe that that that’s a component that, that we could tap into for, for your organization to kind of get things, get the.
SofiaZabar: I think that’s a great idea. And now that you’re saying it, I remember that for the 25 year anniversary, we actually had a huge reception and we invited people who had contributed to the lymphoma journey in the past years. So that was a great event. And bringing people back together, it included Illumini, it included founders included.
People who had supported in whatever way. And that, that actually gave a lot of momentum to us in the coming years after that. So probably kicking off our fundraising campaign with a reception like that because we are very close to 35.
StuSwineford: Yeah, I would say going back to that, to that well, so to speak and reinvigorating those people, getting them back re-engaged I’m assuming you have kind of a mailing list or a you know, an attendee list that you could leverage from that.
So ideally this starts so this can be. For some people trying to raise funds is a little bit uncomfortable asking for money, asking for people to help becomes this source of. Of fear anxiety you know, people don’t like hearing no. And so the way that I would kind of create an opportunity around that would be to, to kind of figure out who the friendliest of, of that group is and reach out to those, those people first.
So you can kind of gain some conflict. You can work on your work on your story? I don’t like to say pitch because I don’t think anyone really likes to be pitched, but how can we, how can we rekindle these relationships? How can we get people to be excited about you know, about the last 10 years since the last time they engaged as well as, you know, what’s up, what’s coming up and want to be a part of that.
And so if, if we can be strategic about the people that we’re reaching out to. And really think about these as opportunities to have conversations as opposed to having. An end goal in mind. You know, we’re really just trying to reinvigorate old connections and see where that takes us. And so I would, you know, I would put that list in a database and see where among the, your, your father and the rest of the, of the crew there, where the strongest connections lie within.
Within that list and start those conversations there. The other thing that can happen there is you can enlist other people’s help. So it may be that some of the people that you reach out to either, I mean, maybe they are able to contribute, but they also may be able to contribute their. Their time and their ability to reach out to other people on that list or even expand that list.
And so it’s really all about starting the restarting, those conversations and getting getting some activity there. As you do that, you’ll get better at it as well as you also will. We’ll get some people really excited to help add, add names to.
SofiaZabar: If you do that, for example, I’m just thinking, because most of our network is related to nonprofit and the government.
And we, in our to earlier this year, when we had our board meeting and our update, we strongly feel that we need to start reaching out to the corporate side. And also get in touch with the, like, you know, they’re big telecom and big industrial companies where they have big social responsibility, funds CSRs.
So that’s one thing to tap into, not just individuals. So if he did, for example, an event like this or something, how can we utilize this to bridge that gap as well, the right people and bring them
StuSwineford: on. Yeah. So there are a number of ways to engage with kind of corporate partners or sponsors. If you’re planning to have an event, it could be a pure kind of sponsorship opportunity where you’re, you’re providing some CSR you’re providing some visibility and, and just giving people the opportunity to exp to share in, in that gala and get.
Their company’s name out in front of, of of other people who might be interested in what they’re doing. So like you said, telecom you know, essentially you’re bringing together a bunch of people from, you know, probably from the government, probably from You know, entrepreneurs or, or business leaders, et cetera.
And so if you had a major telecom sponsor I, I like having partners more than sponsors if possible, but well, a sponsor is, is kind of a one-way street. It’s like you are providing a platform for for I, I’m not familiar. Telecoms in Pakistan, but let’s just say there’s one called Pakistan, tele telecom.
Right. And they are just looking for exposure. So they essentially come in and they, and you say, okay, if you give us this much of a, of a donation, we will provide you with this message much exposure. During the event, you can create different tiers of, of a sponsorship. So for example, you might have one or two.
You know, key sponsors, they get a lot of exposure during the event they may have as a speaking opportunity. You know, not to again, pitch, but to just get up in front of the crowd and talk they would probably have their logo everywhere. They may have the ability to buy a certain number of tables or seats at the.
You know, that you can basically put together these sponsorship packages, a lower tier sponsor would have you know, a smaller logo. They may not be mentioned in the program, or they might have a smaller mention in the program. They, you know, they might have. Fewer seats that they can, they can give to their friends and family and coworkers, et cetera.
But you know, essentially you would, it’s a one-way street with a sponsorship with a partnership. Or at least the way that I like to think of partnerships is there is some kind of synergy. There’s a, there’s a an aligned mission in some capacity, where in, with a partnership, you are promoting those people on your site, calling them out as, as partners and supporters.
And they’re equally interested in talking about your organization on their site. So it’s not just an advertisement is. Yeah, and an opportunity to get one’s name out there, but it really can be something where there’s a mission alignment. So for example, we’ll just continue to use the telecom as, as an example, in a partnership opportunity, let’s say the telecom has you know, a corporate social responsibility component to their business where they are really, really engaged in In education because they you know, they know that they need educated people coming up and working, working with them in their organization.
And so they are very active in supporting education in some capacity within the organizations. So as a partner with your organization they would then be as excited to talk about your organization and all the good work that you’re doing and that they’re helping you accomplish on their site or, and in their social media, et cetera, as you are in, in your own.
And so it becomes kind of a two-way street.
SofiaZabar: I think partnerships. But I don’t have a question that, for example, we identified one specific let’s say a telecom partner, potential partner. We see that according to the research that we do on their website or something that there’s mission alignment, we reach out to them.
So how do you really form that partnership before the event? For example,
StuSwineford: So before the event, essentially you, well, the first thing I would do is see if anyone in your network of, of current or, or former board members had knows anyone within that organization that might be in charge of CSR and really, again think about that relationship.
And then I would approach them from the perspective of. Of how well these missions align and, and all the work that you are doing, that is, that is, is really, like I said, very aligned with what they are doing in terms of their, of, in terms of their CSR,
SofiaZabar: do we need to prepare any artifacts that we might present in these meetings?
Or these are just friendly meetings?
StuSwineford: Well, I think.
SofiaZabar: Yeah. Yeah,
StuSwineford: no, that certainly counts. I think having supporting materials at this stage of the game is, is more important than necessarily having a fancy pitch deck or leave behind or, or something of that nature. Those things tend to be helpful from a reinforcement and validation standpoint, certainly they, they do give the opportunity to tell your story a little bit more, but I would say in order to.
You know, to start the conversation, I would, I would say, you know, leaning back on relationships and just trying to build, to build kind of these, these personal relationships is where I would start. You know, one of the things that marketing is is fantastic. I love marketing. I’ve been doing it for years and years and years.
A lot of times. We get a little too caught up in the, in the tactics of, of marketing and lose track of the, of the bigger picture strategy. Ultimately marketing is really just about relationship building and whatever you need to help build that relationship and help help solidify. Yeah, those good interpersonal vibes that occur when two people come together and, and have a shared mission or have a shared interest.
If there are things that you can, that you can use to help reinforce those, I think, I think that’s great. But if we are really starting from this perspective of there are already. You know, some relationships built that we can leverage. Then I would say that, that, you know, building out collateral and, and pitch decks and leave-behinds, and all of that stuff that comes into play with sales is a little less necessary at the start.
It may be something that becomes more and more helpful. The farther away from a one-to-one kind of conversation or connection that you’re having. So if you think about LinkedIn, for example on LinkedIn, you know, there’s first, second, third degree. Relationships on, on that platform. And so if you’re talking to someone from a first degree relationships with someone that you actually kinda know it probably would be weird to, to run them through a PowerPoint or a pitch deck or, or, you know, give them some sort of a flyer after you’ve had your conversation.
Versus if you’re talking with someone who’s a third degree kind of connection, you know, they may need some of that stuff to reinforce the validity of the story that you’re, that you’re telling them.
SofiaZabar: I think I’m kind of forming my line of thoughts just to, let’s say we have done that pre-work tapped into our relationships and secondary connections got invited the right people who are taking the ownership of being in the event and feel proud of being part of this journey. So what happens after we have done this?
Like, you know, we have really initiated a journey and gotten them on board. How do we keep that engagement and momentum in the months to come.
StuSwineford: Yeah, that’s great. I mean, that again is in this instill in this kind of inspire phase of, of the relationship or of that stakeholder journey. And it’s, it’s really a matter of.
I think authenticity as well as consistency. So as you’ve developed those relationships and, and let’s say, let’s say you have somebody who, you know, is very well aligned, but they haven’t necessarily taken the next step to become a donor. Just staying in touch with them, just staying in front of, in front of them.
I’m reaching out with, with valuable information things that you think they might be interested in and coming at that from a perspective that you’re just, again, you’re all you’re doing is trying to build a relationship. So for example the difference between me reaching back out to you in a, in a few weeks and asking you how things are going or sharing with you.
An article that I read about new, new tricks or new techniques in in donor engagement you know, that comes from a, from a perspective of authenticity, as well as just wanting to be a valued resource for you, as opposed to me trying to sell you something. In comparison. If in a couple of weeks I reached out and, and, you know, tried to pitch you on a new website or SEO or something like that, it would feel like a pitch.
It would feel like I was trying to sell you something that I had an end goal kind of in mind. And so I think authenticity is, is kind of the, the best piece to lean into when we are. When we’re building these types of relationships.
SofiaZabar: So what I’m hearing is I just know no different than building a business, basically, because even on LinkedIn, what we do is where I mostly generate my business is just building authentic relationships openly and just being open to where that takes.
StuSwineford: Yeah, I think that if you are on, I mean, we’ve all experienced this and we can use LinkedIn as, as the example that we’ve all experienced, the person who reaches out and seems genuine maybe, or, or inquisitive or some somewhat aligned and they ask to, to connect and then we connect with them in and five minutes later, we get, you know, what is pretty evidently a pre-canned.
Pitch of some sort and it may be, it may be kind of based in value, but it just doesn’t feel authentic. Yeah. And so a different way to handle that would be to, you know, to just genuinely thank somebody if you want to reach out immediately, which I don’t think is a bad idea, but just thank them for connecting and You know, and then let it, let it sit there instead of, instead of always trying to sell somebody something.
And so it’s very similar. I mean, non-profits are our businesses just like other businesses, they, they may be a non-profit business, but they, you know, they. In fact, a business. They have a lot of the same challenges. They have different some different ones than a for-profit businesses, but but at the end of the day, you know, they have operations, they have human resources, challenges, they have revenue challenges.
They have No marketing challenges. So it’s all really kind of the same stuff with a little bit of a different spin on it. And so I think that creating a plan that has authentic outreach as part of the cadence on that is, is certainly something that. That that many nonprofits, including yours could take advantage of in terms of, of that ongoing outreach follow up with somebody immediately after the event, ask them what they liked about it, what they didn’t like about it.
What, what, what could have been done better where you know, what they, what got them excited. And if you’re actually genuinely reaching out for feedback and for an engaged conversation You know, not only do those people feel heard, but they also feel more connected and they’re vastly more willing to you know, come back and, and, and say, well, what, you know, what else can I do to help you?
SofiaZabar: sounds good. I have one more question. That is that. So we have a head office in the Capitol city in slumber, where, from where we run the operations. But we don’t have a dedicated fundraising team. So do you think to be very organized and targeted so that because I’m seeing that this would be a lot of follow-up and somebody who’s who’s authentic and has that kind of right.
Energy to engage and build relationships. So what do you advise that we have a dedicated fundraising person and if yes, what kind of qualities should we look for? Once we look to hire somebody?
StuSwineford: Wow. Those are great questions. I think I would approach it to start from. Who, where, what are those, what are those relationships that feel the most natural for your existing?
A group of people who are, who are going to be doing this work and start there and. And leverage those kind of like what I was talking about earlier in terms of those comfortable conversations, see how many of those we can have and, and how those are working. And allow those to, with, you know, the idea here is that those then create some initial thrust as well as some practice.
So you refine, refine your story. And then it also potentially, and hopefully starts to build a revenue stream. So as, as you’re having those, you know, those easy conversations, you’re getting some revenue coming in that revenue would then. To fund a position within your organization who would be potentially supporting additional conversations still being had by kind of the, the high level individuals, but also be able to start weaving in some more organic or you know, less familiar conversations into the, into the mix and And I think that the type of person that would be great for that job as someone who is you know, open, gregarious interested in learning I would say some of the other qualities would be.
I’ll use thick skin. That sounds a little, a little disingenuous, but I think you have somebody who, who isn’t going to be. You know, they’re going to be able to take, take some nos and, and understand that that no is, is perfectly okay. You know, just making sure that you follow. W if some, if you get a no ask, well, who else, who else should I be talking with?
You know, and those are a perfectly fine conversation to have, in fact you know, it’s the second best answer you can get from. Yes. Because you, you then don’t end up chasing people who you know, who, who aren’t, aren’t going to be able to assist your, your organization, but you can take a no and turn it into you know, More interesting.
If somebody is just not able to give right now, there may be other, other ways that they can help. Like how, how can they help? How can you help them share your story more broadly? Because they have their own network that they could reach out to.
SofiaZabar: And most of the partnerships are not always money based because we had a, for a few years, we enjoyed a great partnership with IBM and they, they deliver teachers training.
So there Crainer actually traveled to all the schools and train our teachers on their teaching skills.
StuSwineford: Yeah, that is fantastic. I think that yeah, partnerships don’t always have to be a monetary transaction. A good partnership can be somebody who is incredibly well connected and it was in is willing to share, share those connections with you.
One of the examples that I’ve I’ve used in the past is here in the states, there is an organization. Tap cat and they run a sweepstakes for non-profits. So essentially they come up with a prize. So that could be, you know, a car or a trip or something of that nature. The non-profit then publicizes this opportunity and then all of the funds that come in for the sweepstakes.
So people bought essentially by. You know, tickets or opportunities to win the prize, those become donations for the organization. And one of the, and there’s a, there are a bunch of legal things around that here in the states. I’m not sure what, what an equivalent system would be in, in Pakistan. So you would want to or, or in, in Australia for that matter, you’d want to check your local regulations on, on on this before you just rush out in.
And implement this plan, but one of the things that becomes really beneficial is leveraging a partner that has an aligned mission. So an example would be there is an organization who is. A they do avalanche control or avalanche research here in the states and they are, are, are a sweep doing a sweepstakes to win a snowmobile, which is something that a lot of people who like to participate in.
Winter sports go out and they get into avalanche territory. And so there’s an aligned aligned prize there. But what they can do is partner with one of their. Yeah, either one of their sponsors or, or somebody that they could partner with, who has a list of people who participate in snow sports.
And so that partner then is able to publicize the sweepstakes to their large audience. They may not even necessarily have to. You know, donate anything or or be on board, but you’re leveraging the asset that that partner brings to the table, which is a large audience. So you know, that that’s one way to kind of leverage the power of a, of a non you know, financial, transactional relationship to to help further your cause.
SofiaZabar: Yeah, let’s do thank you. I think these are great insights and I already can see a plan in my head. Oh, that’s fantastic discussion because I think we have discussed like a whole approach.
StuSwineford: Well, it certainly, that’s certainly the first start of it. I think that, that, you know, we’ve talked mostly in this inspire phase, so, you know, leveraging past engagements, leveraging past relationships you know, certainly in the attract bond and connect phase, that’s where you’re, you’re able to go out and create materials that talk about the problem that you’re helping to solve.
That kind of put people into the position of you know, they’re going to donate to help help eradicate this problem or help make it better. And and so telling that story effectively on your website and on social media that certainly starts to come into the awareness phase. So where, where people are, you know, they, they may.
They may have heard something about you know, particularly you know, education of, of girls in in Afghanistan or Pakistan. They may have heard that there’s some challenges there and they want to get involved. And so they do a search for you know, for something that brings up your site. You know, that’s a way to start educating those people again, trying to not necessarily jump to the, you know, give me some money.
You know, here’s, here’s the answer to that question that you had. It’s a real problem. Here are the here’s some of the ways that we are combating that problem. Here’s some of the challenges we’re facing in in combating that problem. And here’s some ways that you can support us. And so essentially you’re taking them through that you know, that attract bond and connect phase to transition them from you know, someone who’s just interested in a topic to somebody who’s willing to support you in, in that.
SofiaZabar: I’ll share something fun here. So last year during COVID times, my I worked with my dad. We’ve started writing his story of how the foundation started. So more from a point of view of celebrating the land and its people, not just the foundation and my father’s story, but more about celebrating that land because not much is known about that part of Pakistan or, you know, so we have almost the first draft.
Okay. Yeah. So yeah. So bringing that book into the world would be, I think, a great step forward as
StuSwineford: well. Absolutely. Yeah. Books are a really great way to get people engaged. And one of the funny, but sad things about, about a book is a lot of times people don’t even read the book. It would be. All they needed out of just buying the book or even just knowing that the book existed because it does bring a certain sense of invalidates the message.
So if you’re, you know, if your father is out there talking and is able to say, you know, I wrote a book about this and blah, blah, blah. People are like, oh wow. He really must know what he’s talking about. You know, without even necessarily having to buy the book they can, they can get engaged now.
You know, turning that turning book sales into, into revenue is also incredibly great opportunity. You know, typically when people have written a book, they have an opportunity to go on speaking tours as well. So, you know, those are some other ways to
To kind of supercharge what’s going on around that book. But I think, I think that’d be a great thing to add to the, to the mix at, at the fundraiser is either You know, giving away copies of the book to people who, who come to the event or you know, creating those as, as maybe prize opportunities. So people feel like they’ve, they’ve won something.
You know, those might be some good ways to leverage that material. For sure. Sounds good.
SofiaZabar: It’s really good because yeah, this is a story of like real resilience and heroism, not just fiction. We have faced so much opposition. Like we had life threats and. It’s not even a joke, right? There was one year that each, like we have three siblings and each one of us, there was an armed guard with us sitting next to us in class all the time.
SofiaZabar: my father is my hero. You can see for all the, for all the reasons why, and I had no choice, but to be who I am because I, his daughter. Right.
StuSwineford: Well, I mean, you’re doing amazing things and your father is doing amazing things. You’re following in his footsteps. I would be telling those stories for sure. On, on LinkedIn.
I mean, something I’ve been experiencing there recently is the more authentic I am, the more of those. Kind of heartfelt non-business type stories that I tell on LinkedIn, the more engagement I get and I’m not doing it. I’m not doing it for engagement. I’m doing it to try and inspire people to understand that that You know that there, that there are other people out there who need our help or ways to open themselves up to be more open to potential experiences or you know, to be able to give back more in the, in the world.
But as I’ve become a lot more kind of authentic about that and. And not, not necessarily hiding behind things that are challenges, you know, sharing those stories is my I’m experiencing that as incredibly Accepted and and engaging and people, people seem to like it. So, you know, I would say telling those stories on LinkedIn is going to help spread that word.
It’s going to help get people engaged. It’s potentially going to sell some books, potentially going to raise awareness around what you’re doing on top of your. You know, your leadership, coaching practice you know, these are all things that feed into who you are and, and, and the value that you bring to the world.
And and so, you know, sharing all of that is I think really important.
SofiaZabar: Thank you for encouraging me to do that because honestly, I haven’t like, you know, I’ve never spoken around that part of childhood or where it all comes to.
StuSwineford: I mean, that is definitely. Yeah. Yeah. Well, it’s definitely not the experience that that most Westerners have had. And I would count myself as very lucky that I didn’t have to, to have, have armed guards go, go with me to school. But I
SofiaZabar: can’t complain. We had a beautiful childhood, like total wilderness countryside, no screens.
Playing outdoors all the time. And we had name an animal and we had it at home. So my parents were so big on having outdoor pets, peacocks to monkeys, to ducks and rabbits.
StuSwineford: I mean, those are amazing stories. It’s a totally different perspective than, than most. Most people on LinkedIn probably have experienced.
And those who, who have a shared experience, they’ll connect with you as, as well. You know, in a lot of those people may be able to help the organization. A lot of those people may I mean, they may just be able to spread the word, which is, which is going to help the organization. So I think that there are there are a lot of benefits to, to.
To to sharing that kind of stuff out there.
SofiaZabar: Yeah. No, you really opened up my, you really broadened my vision. I would say like, probably I was thinking small and you really opened me up to possibilities and it seems so exciting because it’s authentic. There’s no pretending to be. And yeah, just like going in flow is easy way to go.
StuSwineford: Yeah. Yeah, it’s fun. It’s fun, right? When you’re just able to be, and you don’t, you’re not having to think about what to do. You just, you just are. I think that that’s a really fun, fun way to live and and be able to, to share share benefit with, with a wide audience you know, people who. Who are like-minded or have similar experiences all the way to people who’ve maybe have doubts.
I think that if we, if we start with that authenticity piece and start with the idea, That all we’re really trying to do is build, build a relationship and, and and connect with other people that, you know, that’s the first step to really anything getting done.
SofiaZabar: Sounds great. And I think probably I’ll report back to you in a year’s time, how
StuSwineford: far you’ve got.
Well, I would love to know, when are you planning to hold your your event or your gala? You said you’re in, you’re coming up on your 35th year.
SofiaZabar: I would like to be there in. And I, I just went back in November last year. So maybe like, you know, we’ll speak and talk about it maybe later in the year or early next here, but we wouldn’t wait for the event to have these to have these activated started because I think we start, start building the partnerships, not wait for the event, but event it’s two, eight months based on the year.
StuSwineford: Yeah, I would, I would target a few people that you think would be good to talk with. Either because they would be good partners or because they might be potential donors or because they are sympathetic to what you’re trying to do. And and then have the right people in your organization, reach out to those, those people and just kind of get those conversations started and, and just see you know, where they see challenges being.
W not being that or where they where they would like to see your organization go. You know, it just gives you the ability to to connect and that’s the first step. Yup.
SofiaZabar: This sounds amazing. And I think we have the event. I would love my children to be there. So my son has just turned 10. So, you know, it’s like, I think it’s intergenerational because they are watching how we are showing up what we are doing.
They follow my heart, the story, they follow, whatever. So. Yeah, just, yeah, it’s important.
StuSwineford: I think so too. I mean, we all have this opportunity to, to make a difference for the, the generation that’s coming up and, and it sounds to me like your, your father took some pretty big steps to to help with that.
You’re like I said, you you’re following in his footsteps and you are you know, you’re taking. Taking that up and continuing that tradition and, you know, your, your children are, are going to see that and, and be able to, to really have a completely different relationship with, with growing up in in and getting educated in, in in the world.
Not just, not just. Yeah. Yeah. Well, I really have had a really fun time talking with you. I’m fascinated to learn more about what you’re doing and see how some of these things land. If if people want to find out more about you or your organization, what, what’s the best way for them to, to learn more about you?
SofiaZabar: I mean, I’m very open to connecting on LinkedIn and building a relationship from there. Otherwise we can share links to my personal website and to the Italian foundation’s website.
StuSwineford: Okay. That sounds fantastic. I would love to do that. I’ll I’ll gather those from you after our call and I’ll share them in the show notes.
SofiaZabar: Thank you so
StuSwineford: much to quote two questions. Yeah, my pleasure too. Two questions before we, before we end our, our conversation today, the first one is what, what are, what do you think your takeaways from our conversation were? What were, what were some of the biggest things that you think would be good for you to to engage with?
SofiaZabar: I think my biggest lesson is that I don’t need a, to do list. We need it to be. Which feels not overwhelming at all. So that’s the first thing you have the place overwhelmed with excitement. Second thing is that it’s easier to start. Then I taught diving into existing relationships, reigniting that. And so what was the second part of your question?
StuSwineford: Well, the second part of my question is about action. I love having conversations. I love talking about things. However, I really want people to take action and be inspired by these conversations that we’re having. And so if there was one thing that you would want our audience to do or take away after after listening to our conversation and go out and, and, and take some action on what, what would that be?
SofiaZabar: I would say take inspired. Like in the moment, I feel inspired that we should do that event. And you reconnected me with what we did about 10 years ago, and I could see what we achieved after that. So thank you for reminding me. So I feel inspired that that’s the way to go, and that gives me a whole new direction.
So inspired, disciplined action, probably because I really believe in consistent small steps every day, instead of those big things, which grown you.
StuSwineford: I think that’s fantastic. A fantastic takeaway, and I really did have a great time talking with you today and I’m really looking forward to hearing what’s next for you, Sophia. Thank you for being on the show. Thank you for your guidance. It’s my pleasure to talk to you soon.
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