Advocates get asked to do all sorts of things. People see you doing good work and assume that you can take on every mission, every problem, every issue.
Women get asked to do all sorts of things. Maybe you have helped someone before, organized an event, or managed to get things done.
And when you say no to things there is an assumption that you are struggling. There is an assumption that your boundaries mean weakness but what they really mean is that you are focused and using your strengths in a way that is meaningful and important to you.
In the past 2 weeks I have been asked:
- to speak for free 5 times
- to put our logo on other people's websites (people I don't know)
- to have a free coffee chat 9 times
- to take on 4 different advocacy projects
- to help amplify 6 different stories or issues
- We have turned down 2 corporate offers to partner because I just can't unsee that story about one of our members who you fired because she was pregnant.
In the past 2 weeks I have also:
- Been sick
- Been working overtime to finish up advocacy projects that are SOOO close to being finished
- Worked my full-time job and helped 7 women collectively earn over 160k.
- Made 7 specialist appointments for my kids
- Put in 5 hours with Speech Therapy to make sure that I can continue to retain the limited amount of reading ability I have. (Yes I have significant disabilities - no I am not going to get better - but l am still unstoppable)
So I am fine. I just can't do your thing for free. I just can't devote the 150 hours to a thing your friend told you was important and that you are not willing to do yourself.
Moms at Work is so good at Advocacy because we have a PAID team. On average we spend 150 hours and almost 10K dollars on each project - organizing media, PR pitches, social media campaigns, setting up meetings, having conversations, organizing support.
Volunteers are sometimes helpful but the Prime Minister is not waiting weeks for you to get back to them for space they have made in their schedule. Ministers who agree to talk to you have 1 time in the next week that will work and you get about 72 hours notice.
Our work is important and we are DAMN good at it. But we are good at it because we say no. We are good at it because we keep making sure that we set limits - are realistic with our capacity and that our team feels valued and supported.
So if you want us to change the world. If you want us to be around. We are a business. You can buy our things. You can work with us. You can sit with us. You can share our things and hire us as speakers and to do the good work that we do.
But if we say no then I want you to be proud of us. I want you to think of that as a win. Because we are running our company differently. We are putting our people first. And that is what a good company should do, right?
Allison Venditti is the Founder of Moms at Work & My Parental Leave. She built her businesses with a framework of advocacy never seen in corporate and without funding, grants, or giving up her ownership by becoming a non-profit. She happily grows her company with her team of 5 part-time successful women who support other women by saying no on the regular.
Grab our salary negotiation handbook here to help you get more money! We do that well too :)