A Traceur's Guide to Asking for Donations - Charles Moreland
By: Charles Moreland 
Ask and You Shall Receive
Last quarter at Rochester Institute of Technology, I took a course on grantwriting and marketing for non-profit organizations. It was a four hour long night class and the professor who taught came across as a snobby, stuck up, very particular and punctual person. I immediately assumed this course would be the worst course in my college career. Fortunately, to my surprise, this class quickly turned out to be not only one of my favorite courses I've ever taken, but also the most practical and changing. The course was project based and we were set up and paired with actual local NPO's (Non Profit Organizations) who used our advice to better their marketing strategies. More importantly though, this class taught me how to approach and ask for favors, donations, requests, etc from others for your business or organization. 
As communities, whether we are officially organized under law or not, we act much like NPO's do. A traceur's home is often one that has scrap wood, junk metal, used piping, and PVC pipe littered around. We are a very crafty and thrifty folk, us traceurs. Dumpster diving to recycle old "junk" into new toys is great, but as I've recently learned, sometimes asking works just as well!
There is no real "proper" approach to this. Much of it simply involves a cool and calm attitude. Here are a few easy steps to requesting help in a professional manner:
1. Recognize and take ANY opportunity that presents itself - drop whatever you are doing and introduce yourself. The worst that can happen is they say no and you go on your merry way
2. Take a deep breath and act professional - The more confident and serious attitude you project, the better your chances of success
3. Have a business card if possible - This has helped me so many times I can't imagine NOT having one. I paid $25 for 250 cards 6 months ago. I can put no value on how useful these are.
4. Use a sound case for support - Mention the values training parkour inspires in youths and young adults and express your constant need for whatever they have to offer
5. Make eye contact, shake hands, and make sure you use their name when leaving
To explain further, I will present a recent occurrence:
While training alone one day at my favorite Rochester hot spot, I noticed the building across the street being heavily renovated. There was not one, but two massive dumpsters outside the building with workers moving back and forth every couple of minutes with handfuls of scrap wood. Opportunity struck! I took my chance.
I casually walked over to the worker carrying the scrap wood and asked a simple question: "Is this all scrap? Will it be recycled?" The worker acknowledged and I asked if I could talk to the foreman. I was then walked inside and introduced to a man named Dan. After a quick smile, I began my case for support:
"Hi Dan. It's great to meet you! My name is Charles Moreland and I'm with the Rochester Parkour Organization. I help teach obstacle coursing to youths and young adults. Parkour is great way to not only get them active, but also instill a lot of core values like self-discipline and confidence. We are always in need, though, of scrap wood that we use to make obstacles for the kids to vault and jump over. I noticed you had a lot here, and wondered if you wouldn't mind donating some."
He raised his eyebrows for a minute, I assume he was attempting to fully understand what had just happened. Here, a 22 year old male, not out of college, presented himself like a seasoned business man, is wearing heavily dirtied cargo pants and a bandana, is asking for a donation of wood, and is also presenting a business card? Recovering from the shock, he shook his head and said "Sure! How much do you want?" 
This brings up another important point in asking for things: once they agree, take whatever they are willing to give. No matter what. 
"I have my car just around the corner. Would you mind me filling it up?"
"Sure thing. There's the dumpster, take whatever you want. Andy, will you help him?"
Yup, not only was I given as much scrap wood as I wanted, I also got one of the construction workers to help me. 
I want to stress that this exchange took at most 5 minutes of my time and in those 5 minutes I not only built some more confidence in myself, but I also:
-Made a business contact with a construction company who I'm sure looked at the websites on my card and learned more about parkour
-Displayed a positive image of parkour practitioners
-Obtained a car full of scrap wood
The first two points are clearly important. While dumpster diving is fun and practical, the action often comes with negative connotations and is generally frowned upon in general society. By asking, you destroy this negative connotation, and instead, reinforce the positivity we all know surrounds the parkour atmosphere and community at large. 
The action is simple. The cause is good. I hope everyone recognizes the next opportunity presented to them, such as the example I gave in this article, takes it, and not only spreads the positive message of parkour, but also gets some really cool things to jump over at their next jam!
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Written by Janine   
Sunday, 28 March 2010 19:00
Last Updated on Monday, 13 December 2010 21:52