How Money is Not Your Problem 

By Robbie MacCue

“How money is not your problem”.

It’s your thoughts about it…

Money (or lack thereof) is not your problem. It is also not the economy, or people’s failure to donate or any thing having to do with money.

I’ll say it again, MONEY IS NOT YOUR PROBLEM.  

Money is not your probelm 290 x 290The problem is your thoughts about money or better said, your lack of creative thinking once you conclude that money is the problem or reason why not. Money is one of those concepts that when it is brought up as an issue it stops people in their tracks and becomes an insurmountable barrier. It’s as if there is an unspoken agreement that where money is concerned we are all helpless.

When we believe that money is the barrier to what we want we stop asking for what we really want and start settling for what we think we can have thereby reducing our motivation and desire to go for it.

A few years ago, a non-profit ambulance service’s building was in need of much repair, in fact, the engineers said if it weren’t for the lack of insulation melting the snow the roof would have collapsed! Meanwhile the building’s facade was buckling and falling apart, moss and little twigs were growing out of the building — well, they were growing out of the rotten plywood and framework under the warping  siding. I could go on — but you get the picture.

Lack of money was the explanation and reason that the building got to that point.  Anytime there was conversation about fixing or repairing the building, lack of funds was the reason why not. It took two dedicated members to laser focus on the project and go beyond the conclusion about money. They not only saved the building they also  won an award from the local historical society for the renovations.

They could have gotten stopped by “it’s too much money” or “there’s no way we could afford that” but instead they got creative and asked, given our money situation, how can we create the kind of building we would all be proud of? In reality no one knew how much it was going to actually cost.

That’s one of the problems with concluding “it’s the money,” no additional thinking is required, no further investigation is needed. Assumptions are made, conclusions drawn, end of story. Because these two members were not stopped by money they took steps to have engineers and an architect draw up some plans, opened the project for bids and ta-da — they now knew the facts about how much it would cost. Now all there was to do was to engage in an innovative conversation for how to bring the project into reality.

It turns out the Fireman’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) actually has a very easy funding mechanism for micro-loans up to $50k to start the project and then a mortgage to refinance and pay for the whole project. Now the agency  has a beautiful building that is safe and actually attracts people to the organization and is on track to pay their 15 year mortgage off within 7 years,.

Imagine if they had stopped at “we just can’t afford it” or “we don’t have a budget for that”.the roof eventually could have collapsed, leaving them with a lot more problems or worse yet injuries. They would have become more discouraged and a general feeling of powerlessness would have ensued causing a downward spiral.  Instead, moral is up, more members are joining every month and there is a positive feeling toward the future of the organization. The “cost” of using “money” as an excuse is far reaching.

Image - 1Lesson 1: Figure out what you want and go  after it. Keep asking “What If?”. What if we could afford it? What would you REALLY want to see for the project – if anything were possible? Instead of assuming you already know, get curious.

Image - 2Lesson 2:There is always a way. Whether it’s through financing, fundraising, local business support or a tax-levy. When you are not stopped by your thoughts about money, there is ALWAYS a way — if you want it bad enough and are willing to get creative.

Image - 3Lesson 3: Ask for help. Stop feeling overwhelmed or thinking it will get better on its own or that you have thought of everything. It won’t help. What will help is asking the experts. Which experts? Any experts! Building problems, find an engineer or architect. Lack of funding, ask what other organizations are doing, and find a really good accountant. Recruitment and retention issues — find an organization that is thriving, learn what they are doing and start doing it. Invest in your people as they are the best resource you have.

PS — Bonus Lesson. Once you ask for help, take action and do it. We’ve had many people ask us for help or advice, and then take no action. The most successful leaders are not afraid to ask for help and then  take action in the direction of what they want.

Here are four  resources that will be really helpful for you to get beyond your current thinking and perhaps discover innovative ways to get what you want or need for your organization:

  • “Relationshift: Revolutionary Fundraising” by Michael Bassoff and Steve Chandler – A book that will change your thought process about asking for money and help you focus on what generates large donations:Building connections and relationships with donors.
  • FireGrantHelp- Free resource by FireGrantsHelp.com, they will monitor available grants and call you if any grants come up in your geographic area.
  • Municipal Marketing Service – An amazing company out of Pennsylvania that helps emergency services develop a direct mail marketing campaign. It’s helped many small organizations generate 5+ figures annually.
  • Municipalities / Tax levy – If it’s one thing people would be happy to pay for, it’s life saving emergency care. Most have no idea where all of their tax money is going, politicians have said people want their roads taken care of and someone to show up quickly in an emergency. Educate your local officials and the community. Break the numbers down and see how many pennies on the assessed thousand it would cost your taxpayers. My guess is they pay more for a month of cable than a years worth of ALS ambulance coverage.


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Robbie MacCue

Robbie is the cofounder of the EMS Leadership Academy, host of the EMS Leadership Summit, and paramedic captain in Albany, NY where he serves in the Special Operations Division for ground rescue, flight, & tactical medicine. He performs international medical flights with North America's largest fixed wing Air Ambulance service. For more than 14 years, Robbie served as President of a non-profit EMS organization advocating for increased funding and raising the bar of excellence. In addition, Robbie is an American Heart Association advocate who is passionate about empowering others to save more lives. He has taught physicians, nurses, and other medical providers Advanced Cardiac Life Support at medical schools and hospitals throughout Manhattan. Robbie has undergraduate degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a MBA from Case Western Reserve University and provides business consulting that combines his love of technology with healthcare.

Robbie MacCue

  • Wow!!!

    Robbie, it seems you just hacked my mind. Absolutely.

    You can tell that I’m quite elated. I’m launching a podcast next month and the focus is the exact topic of your write-up.

    I came across this page while trying to do some research.

    Thanks for sharing.

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