The Fundraising Talent Podcast

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Dispatches from Today's Fundraising Professionals

Episode Date
#43 | Why don't you join us in Philadelphia for How Fundraising Really Works?
18:02

Chris Tomlin reached out to me several months ago to inquire how we might work together. After sharing with him how we partner with local nonprofit organizations to host the How Fundraising Really Works roadshow, he was ready to get to work. I’m especially grateful to Chris and his team at the YMCA of Greater Philadelphia for agreeing to host our upcoming How Fundraising Really Works seminar on Friday, April 5th.

In this quick podcast conversation, Chris shared with me what makes fundraising in Philadelphia different and the unique opportunity that the YMCA affords the philanthropic community. In more ways than one, Chris describes the YMCA as being all about community health and helping in ways that keep it vibrant.

Here’s some feedback from those who attended our seminar in Toronto last month.

“I haven’t enjoyed a fundraising workshop as much as yours in many, many years!” — Maryann Kerr, CEO, The Medalist Group, Toronto, 2019

“Probably one of the best days of professional development I've experienced.” — Jack Silverstein, VP, Development at National Capital Region YMCA-YWCA, Ottawa, 2019

“I found the seminar fun, instructive, affirming and educational.” — Sue Ellen English, National Director, Development, Prison Fellowship Canada

If you're considering joining us for the How Fundraising Really Workss in Philly, it's it important to understand that this is not your typical “Tips and Tricks” experience we've grown accustom to. Instead, we're going to confront the real reasons for why most fundraising strategies are designed to fail, challenge assumptions about how fundraising really works, and ensure that fundraising professionals know how to be recognized and admired for meaningful work. Anyone who isn’t thinking more critically about fundraising when they leave wasn’t paying attention.

For more information, go to lewisfundraising.com/events

Mar 18, 2019
#42 | Who wants to be a fundraiser when they grow up?
32:02

It is fascinating and exciting to hear Shanna Hocking share her journey to becoming a fundraising professional. Whereas many of us happened upon fundraising after pursuing other career paths, Shanna discovered at eighteen that fundraising was an opportunity for her to ensure lifelong meaningful work.

Shanna’s ambition to be a great fundraiser was so strong that after her freshman year in college, she persuaded an AVP at Duke University, where I might add she was not enrolled, to give her an internship in the advancement department. This formative experience in college has evolved into a twenty-year mentorship that has shaped her understanding of fundraising and leadership development.

I have often said that many of our challenges in fundraising are in the supervisory role and not so much about those who are doing the fundraising. Shanna understands this. Her opportunity now is to lead and develop a great team. Whereas she was once determined to be a great fundraiser, she now wants to ensure that she is a great boss for those who are counting on her. I suspect that if we were to ask any one of her twenty-four direct reports, they would insist that she is extraordinary at both.

Upcoming Roadshow Dates

The next stop on the #HowFundraisingReallyWorks roadshow is #Philadelphia. On Friday, April 5th, we will be at the YMCA of Greater Philadelphia. Very grateful to Chris Tomlin and his team for partnering with us!

This is not your typical “Tips and Tricks” seminar - we’re going to confront the real reasons for why most fundraising strategies are designed to fail, challenge assumptions about how fundraising really works, and ensure that fundraising professionals know how to be recognized and admired for meaningful work. Anyone who isn’t thinking more critically about fundraising when they leave wasn’t paying attention. 

Registration always includes breakfast, lunch, a copy of The War for Fundraising Talent, planning model cards, and six CFRE credits for your initial or recertification application. 

You can register at lewisfundraising.com/events

Confirmed Upcoming Roadshow Dates 

Philadelphia, 4/5, Hosted by Greater YMCA of Philadelphia

Raleigh, 4/26, Hosted by Saint Augustine’s University 

Worcester, 5/2, Hosted by Woman In Development 

New York City, 10/10, Hosted by The Gateway School

Mar 14, 2019
#41 | Is the impulse to sell undermining our fundraising efforts?
23:53

It’s always a pleasure to reconnect with colleagues whose paths have crossed with yours. Between the two of us, Ken and I could write volumes on what to do, and not to do, when it comes to small town Philanthropy.

But the opportunities and challenges we have similarly encountered in my hometown were not the focus of our conversation for this podcast. Instead, we compared notes on what we believe are some of the tyrannies that are undermining the effectiveness of many fundraising efforts. Interestingly, all three seem to suggest that our impulse to sell may be undermining our fundraising efforts.

We first discussed the tyranny of the mega-donor whose contributions, in one way or another, always wield an overwhelming amount of power and influence. Our experience has been that these individuals don’t have quite the lofty expectations we assume they have.

Next, Ken provided some great insights into the types of relationship we generally have with those donors on the other end of the giving continuum. At their own peril, many organizations have become content with exchanging coffee mugs and tote bags for charitable gifts.

The last tyranny on our list really had me thinking. We have observed the tendency to diminish the strength and sturdiness of the charitable dollar as compared to those we earn (ie tuition, ticket sales). What does this say about fundraising and the way we feel about our donors?

#HowFundraisingReallyWorks Roadshow

The next stop on the #HowFundraisingReallyWorks roadshow is #Philadelphia. On Friday, April 5, we will be at the YMCA of Greater Philadelphia. Very grateful to Chris Tomlin and his team for partnering with us!

This is not your typical “Tips and Tricks” seminar - we’re going to confront the real reasons for why most fundraising strategies are designed to fail, challenge assumptions about how fundraising really works, and ensure that fundraising professionals know how to be recognized and admired for meaningful work. Anyone who isn’t thinking more critically about fundraising when they leave wasn’t paying attention. 

Registration always includes breakfast, lunch, a copy of The War for Fundraising Talent, planning model cards, and six CFRE credits for your initial or recertification application. 

You can register here: https://lnkd.in/eJwG-nP 

Confirmed Upcoming Roadshow Dates 

  • Philadelphia, 4/5, Greater YMCA of Philadelphia
  • Raleigh, 4/26, Saint Augustine’s University 
  • Worcester, 5/2, Woman In Development 
  • New York City, 10/10, The Gateway School
Mar 09, 2019
#40 | Are you ready for the fundraising revolution?
31:40

Every podcast conversation that I have with someone like Marissa Madonia convinces me that nonprofits will continue to rely on cheap and shallow fundraising tactics until fundraising professionals understand what it means to be recognized and admired for meaningful work. Look, if the boards and bosses don’t get it, we’re in the wrong place. And until fundraisers are willing to take up this challenge for themselves, resisting the temptation to externalize our problems, a revolution of the sort that Marissa talks about isn’t going to happen. She recognizes that revolutions happen on the ground, at the frontline, where we can make the greatest impact.

As an aspiring fundraising leader, actively involved in the Association of Development Officers, Marissa is a great example of someone who is asking the right questions and doing her part to ensure that our profession continues to mature and thrive. Marissa knows that business as usual will not resolve what is still misunderstood about our profession nor will it remedy what’s not working.

I really appreciated hearing that it was as donor rather than as a fundraiser that everything began to click for her. Contemplating the expectations that she has for the organizations she supports allowed her to grasp what our challenges and opportunities really are.

#fundraisingtalent #howfundraisingreallyworks

Mar 01, 2019
#39 | Why do we allow fundraising to interfere with our commitment to community?
35:32

My recent podcast conversation with Jennifer Cherney left me wondering why so many nonprofit organizations have allowed fundraising to hijack their commitment to community. Referring to the independent school world that the two of us are very familiar with, were it not for the galas and golf tournaments that so many schools organize every year, most in these communities would be without a way to maintain meaningful connections with the people they care about.

How many of us have considered that the real reason why special events persist, regardless of their value in terms of raising money, is because events hold a community together. Is it all that hard to imagine that we might create stronger communities and raise more money if we didn’t feel the need to do them both at the same time?

While I left our conversation in search of the deeper meaning behind special events, Jennifer left pondering the underlying contribution that an individual’s faith tradition might have in response to our fundraising efforts. Whereas events might benefit from being detached from fundraising, it’s sometimes hard to uncover the values of generosity and charity in a community that deliberately detaches itself from faith and religion.

#fundraisingtalent

Feb 22, 2019
#38 | Should fundraising bet all its chips on the CFRE & ACFRE?
33:16

As someone who has not once but twice earned the CFRE and routinely presents CFRE-approved seminars around the country, I was eager to hear David King’s thoughts about the CFRE and ACFRE. Whereas he maintained his CFRE early in his career, and his firm required all consultants to earn the credential as well, neither is the case any longer.

David has certainly earned his right to an opinion about anything fundraising. In addition to committing his entire career to the fundraising profession, David is President & CEO of Alexander Haas, one of the nation’s leading firms based in Atlanta. David is past President of the Board of the Greater Atlanta AFP Chapter, he currently serves as Immediate Past Chair of the Giving Institute and he is on the Board of Giving USA. 

David received minimal feedback from the rank and file when he first voiced his opinion. However, those most hostile to his opinion have been ACFRE’s - those who presumably bet all their chips on these two fundraising credentials.

I believe the CFRE is a good indicator of where I’d expect a fundraiser to be at year five. However, as I shared with David, I question whether the recertification process is adequate for demonstrating continuous improvement for those a decade or more into their career. 

If you’d like to read David’s article, it can be downloaded here.

How Fundraising Really Works Roadshow

We are very grateful to David Hutchinson and the team at Cause Leadership for partnering with us to bring How Fundraising Really Works to Toronto. Later this month, (Thursday, February 28th) we will be at the National Club in downtown Toronto. Seating is always limited to 40 for these events so please register early. Looking further down the road, we have already confirmed dates in Philadelphia, Raleigh, Washington DC, Worcester, MA and NYC. If you’d like to get more information about these upcoming roadshow dates, go to my website at lewisfundraising.com/events

As a reminder, if you’d like to be a guest on The Fundraising Talent Podcast, visit lewisfundraising.com/signup

Feb 19, 2019
#37 | Are patriarchy and pedestals to blame for fundraising’s bad behaviors?
27:51

Maryann Kerr will tell you that she’s on a mission to create well-led, kinder, collaborative, inclusive and diverse workplaces where productivity is high and turnover is low. My recent podcast conversation with Maryann left me with a list of difficult questions to further contemplate. At the top of the list: Are patriarchy and the pedestals that we often afford each other to blame for many of fundraising’s bad behaviors?

In our conversation, it occurred to me that many of the skills we most want fundraising professionals to exhibit are learned from our mothers rather than our fathers. Many of us are advocating for a profession that is less about command and control, ensures genuine conversations, and leans in rather than avoids the messiness of meaningful relationships.

Maryann also had me wrestling with my routine use of the term “rock star” to characterize talented fundraisers. Is this an example of how we have constructed pedestals that inevitably create an inferior/superior relationship between two individuals or groups. While our profession is in the midst of its messy adolescence, are these pedestals examples of Adler’s “striving for superiority” - a defense mechanism to compensate for an inferiority complex that we can’t seem to break.

How Fundraising Really Works Roadshow

We are very grateful to David Hutchinson and the team at Cause Leadership for partnering with us to bring How Fundraising Really Works to Toronto. Later this month, (Thursday, February 28th) we will be at the National Club in downtown Toronto. Seating is always limited to 40 for these events so please register early. Looking further down the road, we have already confirmed dates in Philadelphia, Raleigh, Washington DC, Worcester, MA and NYC. If you’d like to get more information about these upcoming roadshow dates, go to my website at lewisfundraising.com/events

As a reminder, if you’d like to be a guest on The Fundraising Talent Podcast, visit lewisfundraising.com/signup

Feb 16, 2019
#36 | Is social media a barrier to developing the skills most desirable to our employers?
38:10

I don’t suspect many nonprofits will be reducing their use of social media anytime soon. However, Hayley Gullen’s (www.scepticalfundraiser.com) recent decision to quit social media raises two important questions. First, what happens if our donors begin to make similar decisions for themselves? And second, what if social media is interfering with our ability to develop the skills most desirable to our employers?

Critics are encouraging us to ask whether the advantages of social media come at the cost of meaningful relationships. This critique was the focus of my recent podcast conversation with Hayley and raises important questions for fundraising professionals who find it difficult to have meaningful conversations with their donors; conversations that are often the prerequisite to greater levels of support.

In addition to interfering with our ability to achieve our financial goals, Cal Newport, author of Deep Work and Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World, warns of an increasing divide in our current economy where the losers are those whose skills are easily automated and outsourced; skills that often resemble our patterns and habits on social media. When it comes to fundraising, the losers will no doubt be those most fascinated with everything arms-length and the winners will be those most often at the lunch table with their phones turned off.

How Fundraising Really Works Roadshow

We are very grateful to David Hutchinson and the team at Cause Leadership for partnering with us to bring How Fundraising Really Works to Toronto. Later this month, (Thursday, February 28th) we will be at the National Club in downtown Toronto. Seating is always limited to 40 for these events so please register early. Looking further down the road, we have already confirmed dates in Philadelphia, Raleigh, Washington DC, Worcester, MA and NYC. If you’d like to get more information about these upcoming roadshow dates, go to my website at lewisfundraising.com/events

As a reminder, if you’d like to be a guest on The Fundraising Talent Podcast, visit lewisfundraising.com/signup

Feb 12, 2019
#35 | Are you ready to be a fundraising CEO?
24:36

Brad Dunn wanted to increase his confidence as a fundraising CEO and keep pace with the evolving job description for Heads of School today. Without proven methods for accomplishing this, Brad’s board gave us the green light to pioneer a unique approach.

Instead of relying on boilerplate solutions that rarely align with a client’s actual needs, Brad and his board afforded me the flexibility to develop a unique strategy that aligned with a shared understanding of two things: who they are and how fundraising really works.

Brad assumed that a feasibility study was a prerequisite to the pomp and circumstance of a campaign, but he learned otherwise. Brad learned that raising serious money usually comes down to meaningful engagement and deliberate practice. When the time is right for a campaign, Brad will have reduced rather than increased his need for outside help.

Brad has proven the usefulness of our simple yet strategic meaningful conversations outline. This keyword outline has received much attention since it was introduced in my book. Brad can also be applauded for first investing in a listening campaign in order to ensure that the organizations new strategic plan was informed by input from the entire constituency. Brad is well on his way to being the definition of a fundraising CEO.

How Fundraising Really Works Roadshow

We are very grateful to David Hutchinson and the team at Cause Leadership for partnering with us to bring How Fundraising Really Works to Toronto. On Thursday, February 28th, we will be at the National Club in downtown Toronto. Seating is always limited to 40 for these events so please register early. Looking further down the road, we have already confirmed dates in Philadelphia, Raleigh, Washington DC, and Worcester, MA. If you’d like to get more information about these upcoming roadshow dates, go to my website at lewisfundraising.com/events

As a reminder, if you’d like to be a guest on The Fundraising Talent Podcast, visit lewisfundraising.com/signup

Feb 07, 2019
#34 | Is it time to put to rest some of fundraising’s tired clichés?
38:59

Jack Silverstein introduces himself as one of the few people who have been in fundraising their entire career. It’s apparent that Jack doesn’t struggle with a loyalty to another professional domain and that he has discovered fundraising to be very meaningful and rewarding work. Before we tackled our discussion outline, and seeing as I’m going to be presenting in Toronto later this month, I was especially grateful that Jack agreed to initially provide me with quick primer on Canadian fundraising. 

Those who have been around as fundraising professionals as long as Jack and I have know well the usual clichés that donors are not ATM’s, special events don’t work, fundraisers quit every eighteen months, and board members give of their time rather than their money. I asked Jack if we could be more introspective with these tired clichés and do some soul-searching about what’s really being said. 

Of all the clichés that tend towards externalizing and rationalizing our challenges in fundraising, Jack’s years of experience has taught him that more donors and more money will never effectively solve our problems. He has learned that the most effective fundraising efforts resist mass communication, ensure meaningful engagement and align expectations. 

How Fundraising Really Works is Coming to Toronto

We are very grateful to David Hutchinson and the team at Cause Leadership for partnering with us to bring How Fundraising Really Works to Toronto. On Thursday, February 28th, we will be at the National Club in downtown Toronto. Seating is always limited to 40 for these events so please register early. Looking further down the road, we have already confirmed dates in Philadelphia, Raleigh, Washington DC, and Worcester, MA. If you’d like to get more information about these upcoming roadshow dates, go to my website at lewisfundraising.com/events

As a reminder, if you’d like to be a guest on The Fundraising Talent Podcast, visit lewisfundraising.com/signup

 

Feb 05, 2019
#33 | What can AFP and other conference organizers glean from local craft breweries?
36:47

As the rising president of her AFP chapter, Alyson Stoffer is asking whether those charged with providing professional development for fundraisers are falling short on their deliverables. In addition to her leadership with AFP, Alyson is the Director of Development at the Tammy Lynn Center for Developmental Disabilities.

My conversation with Alyson begs the question of whether conference organizers will continue to provide the go-to venue for professional development; and, at a time when nonprofits are struggling to keep their financial heads above water, how many different conferences we really can expect them to afford every year.

If the annual conference is a keeper, Alyson has some ideas for how we might increase their relevancy for today’s emerging leaders. She suggests paying attention to what’s working in other industries and gleaning new ideas from places such as DIA and the growing popularity of local craft breweries.

As someone who routinely speaks at these types of events, I really appreciated Alyson’s concluding thoughts. For those of us who are fortunate to have the platform, let’s not take this opportunity for granted. Instead of always being upbeat and inspirational, let’s ensure we’re providing a fair dose of what’s not working and what we’re going to do about it. And, instead of majoring on our success, let’s recognize that many of us learn as much if not more from our mistakes.

How Fundraising Really Works is Coming to Toronto

We are very grateful to David Hutchinson and the team at Cause Leadership for partnering with us to bring How Fundraising Really Works to Toronto. On Thursday, February 28th, we will be at the National Club in downtown Toronto. Seating is always limited to 40 for these events so please register early. Looking further down the road, we have already confirmed dates in Philadelphia, Raleigh, Washington DC, and Worcester, MA. If you’d like to get more information about these upcoming roadshow dates, go to my website at lewisfundraising.com/events

As a reminder, if you’d like to be a guest on The Fundraising Talent Podcast, visit lewisfundraising.com/signup

Feb 03, 2019
#32 | Does your nonprofit ensure a meaningful experience on both sides of the exchange?
24:09

Norm is a great example of someone who represents the new definition of fundraising talent. Norm’s experiences have taught him the importance of a meaningful experience on both the giving and receiving sides of charitable giving. For someone whose career path includes places like Apple, it’s exciting to see that he has found being a major gifts officer to be meaningful work.

When Norm and I first met, I don’t recall whether I was quite so bold as to give him the advice that I very routinely give now. More and more, I find myself encouraging frustrated fundraisers to quit, run, and hide until they find an organization that understands how fundraising really works. Otherwise, they find themselves mired in arms-length fundraising, and destined to fail.

For both Norm; his family; Covenant House; and, most importantly, the homeless youth that Covenant House aims to serve, I’m delighted that fundraising has become his chosen profession.

If you would like to reach out to Norm, I would encourage you to connect with him on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/normrasmussen/)

Just a quick heads up - preparations for our HOW FUNDRAISING REALLY WORKS roadshow are underway. We have announced our first stop in Toronto for Thursday, Feb. 28th. We are very grateful to David Hutchinson and the team at Cause Leadership for partnering with us. If you’re a fundraising professional and want an opportunity to strengthen your professional commitment to our maturing profession, this seminar is for you. Go to my website at www.lewisfundraising.com/events for more information.

As a reminder, if you’d like to be a guest on The Fundraising Talent Podcast, visit lewisfundraising.com/signup

Jan 30, 2019
#31 | What will get in the way of accomplishing your fundraising goals in 2019?
30:22

I’m grateful for the friendship that has developed between Kate Bousum, CFRE and myself in the last year. In addition to being an active and enthusiastic member of my book launch team, Kate liked, shared and commented on social media and arranged several speaking engagements in the Chicago area. Kate is the Director of Advancement at Child’s Voice, an organization with the mission to empower children with hearing loss to be successful in all educational and social settings by optimizing their listening, speaking and academic skills.

In this conversation, Kate and I looked back on 2018 and asked what she accomplished and what she will do differently in 2019. Kate shared with me that one of the highlights of 2018 was that Child’s Voice wrapped up a strategic plan and went through the process of developing a new one. When I asked Kate what interfered with achievement of some of her goals, her response was succinct and immediate. Looking ahead, Kate wants to be sure that the myriad things that keep us busy in fundraising don’t interfere with increasing the investment made in individual donor relationships.

If you would like to reach out to Kate, I would encourage you to first connect with her on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/katebousum)

Just a quick heads up - preparations for our HOW FUNDRAISING REALLY WORKS roadshow are underway. We have announced our first stop in Toronto for Thursday, Feb. 28th. We are very grateful to Davidson Hutchinson and the team at Cause Leadership for partnering with us. If you’re a fundraising professional and want an opportunity to strengthen your professional commitment to our maturing profession, this seminar is for you. Go to my website at www.lewisfundraising.com/events for more information.

 

As a reminder, if you’d like to be a guest on The Fundraising Talent Podcast, visit lewisfundraising.com/signup

Jan 25, 2019
#30 | Do Target and Wal-Mart understand me better than my alma mater does?
34:14

My conversation was with Dr. Jay Le Roux Dillon was certainly fascinating. Jay is the founder of Alumni Identity Consultants which accelerates giving for colleges and universities by using social psychology and data science to pinpoint their ideal alumni donors. Not to be confused with affinity or feelings of pride or nostalgia, Alumni Identity is about discovering who an institutions alumni are today; offering a psychometric measure of how graduates perceive their self-identity in relation to where they attended college.

Jay suggests that retailers like Target and Walmart are inclined to have a better grasp of who I am today than my alma mater might. Jay warns that most alumni relations offices are focused on who I was while I was in school rather than understanding who I am today. He points to several pervasive myths that undermine fundraising efforts at a time when higher education can ill-afford to miss additional opportunities.

If you're interested in learning more about Alumni Identity, Jay suggested that listeners begin with calculating their Alumni Identity Score. You might also reach out to him on LinkedIn (linkedin.com/in/jayldillon) or visit the Alumni Identity website at https://alumniidentity.com/

Are you interested in being our guest on The Fundraising Talent Podcast? Every week we want to have honest, straight-forward conversations about what it means to be a fundraising professional. We’re not after tips for improving our next direct mail campaign and we’re not looking to hear from self-appointed gurus. Our listeners want to hear from fundraising professionals and their advisors who won’t insist that they have all the answers. If this sounds like you, go to www.lewisfundraising.com/signup/

Thank you for listening to today's episode of The Fundraising Talent Podcast.

#30 | Do Target and Wal-Mart understand me better than my alma mater does?

Jan 21, 2019
# 29 | Are sector leaders willing to make room for younger fundraising talent?
31:37

What most impressed me about Tina Barber was her determination to lead, her willingness to ask bold questions that challenge the status quo, and her commitment to speaking into the next generation of leaders who will follow her. This was one of those conversations I’m inclined to conclude with, “so where do you see you see yourself in ten years?”

Tina is the Vice President of Nueva Esperanza, a faith-based nonprofit organization driven by the Biblical mandate to “serve the least of these.” She has prepared herself for leadership in our sector with a MPA from West Chester University and undergraduate studies in political science at Eastern University. Tina is a member of the faculty for The Nonprofit Center at La Salle University’s School of Business.

Tina boldly asks the question whether there are enough senior leaders in our sector willing to make room for young fundraising talent. Much of our conversation was a comparison of her workplace experiences. The first where she encountered a supervisor unwilling to take a chance on some innovative ideas contrasted with her current employer who has demonstrated both a willingness to take risks and confidently invest in younger talent.

If you’d like to connect with Tina, she suggested LinkedIn (linkedin.com/in/tinambarber) as a great place to start. You might also visit the Nueva Esperanza website at www.esperanza.us 

Are you interested in being our guest on The Fundraising Talent Podcast? Every week we want to have honest, straight-forward conversations about what it means to be a fundraising professional. We’re not after tips for improving our next direct mail campaign and we’re not looking to hear from self-appointed gurus. Our listeners want to hear from fundraising professionals and their advisors who won’t insist that they have all the answers. If this sounds like you, go to www.lewisfundraising.com/signup/ 

Thank you for listening to Episode # 29 | Are sector leaders willing to make room for younger fundraising talent?

Jan 17, 2019
#28 | Are we ready for these important conversations with our donors?
33:53

Our Tuesday conversation this week is with Trista Harris; a philanthropic futurist and passionate advocate for leaders in the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors. I recall Trista catching my attention while we was establishing a platform for herself a decade ago. Since that time, Trista has been featured on CNN, and her work has been covered by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the New York Times, Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal, Forbes, and numerous social sector blogs. In her new book, FutureGood, Trista encourages the social sector to learn to how to predict the future in order to anticipate better trends and new realities that will impact our work.

 

Trista’s 2019 Philanthropy Predictions provided a thought-provoking outline for our conversation this week. It strikes me that each of Trista's predictions will increase the importance of more deliberate conversations with our donors and other constituents.

 

Natural Disaster Forces Action: 2019 will bring another huge natural disaster, exacerbated by human impact on our climate. Since just 100 companies have been the source of more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988, an increased foundation focus will be on shareholder advocacy to hold corporations accountable for their impact on the climate, rather than just focusing on the recycling and driving habits of individual citizens.

 

Marijuana Expungements become an Equity Focus: While whites and blacks use marijuana at similar rates, blacks are more than 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession. This criminal record can impact job prospects, public housing eligibility, and student financial aid eligibility. A growing number of foundations, including community foundations in states that have legalized marijuana, will fund organizing and tech tools to clear the records of people with marijuana related crimes.

 

Cities as a Unit of Change: As the need for more connected cities planned around people’s well-being increases, foundations learn how to influence city-scale development projects. By harnessing the power of collective impact tables, more flexible resources are available for authentic community input, global idea exchanges, and the engagement citizen-focused design experts.

 

Foundations Find their Voice: Just as television images of civil rights protesters being viciously beaten galvanized disengaged northern Whites to act, social media stories and videos of the children of asylum seekers at the southern border being separated from their parents and abused or dying while in the custody of the United States government will push foundations to speak out against separations. Foundations like the ones that have been a part of Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR) for a number of years will provide mentorship and support to funders that are just beginning to engage.

 

Board Demographics Shift: Because of increased transparency and better cultural competency, foundation and nonprofit boards will get more serious about their board demographics reflecting the populations that they serve. As a result of these shifts in representation, there will be lasting impacts on foundation strategy and selection of more CEOs of color in the future by these boards.  

 

If you'd like to reach out to Trista, connect with her on LinkedIn or visit her website at www.tristaharris.org 

 

Stayed tuned for this week’s Thursday conversation with Tina Barber, Vice President of Development at Neuva Esperanza in Philadelphia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan 15, 2019
#27 | Fundraisers, how about we get out from behind our desks and engage with real people?
44:21

I began my conversation with Nikki Bell by asking whether she might be an example of the rising generation of fundraising professionals who are less likely to describe themselves as coming through the back door or wrestling with their former identity as a PR or marketing professional. She concludes her response to my question by insisting that there’s no turning back and that she absolutely adores her work. Certainly not the sentiment we generally encounter with the generation of fundraisers ahead of her. A visit to Nikki’s blog will reveal just how real we’re talking about and how enthusiastic about her work she happens to be:

Fundraising is a wonderful profession and I LOVE that our job makes a difference for others.  It allows us to put supporters first, gives us vibrance and variety, and I get to drink tea and have meaningful conversations with inspirational people – win!

When we reached out to Nikki, our interest was in “community fundraising” – a concept that Sam Butler (Director of Communications and Fundraising at the Tibet Relief Fund) had referenced in a previous podcast. Community fundraisers in the UK describe themselves as real, authentic and personal.* Nikki describes community fundraising as encouraging fundraising professionals to get out from behind their desks and engage with real people rather than a data analysis. Nikki concludes with the notion that community fundraising is a way for charities to differentiate themselves from other organizations and increase the effectiveness of their other fundraising efforts.

If you’d like to reach out to Nikki, she can be found on https://www.linkedin.com/in/nikki-bell/ or her

*https://www.institute-of-fundraising.org.uk/groups/sig-community-fundraising/our-manifesto/

Jan 07, 2019
#26 | Are we demonstrating an eagerness to identify and confront the brutal facts?
44:55

My conversation with Ellen as the last in this podcast series could not have landed closer than where I believed it should. The consensus is that fundraising counsel in the near future needs to be increasingly adaptive rather than formulaic, able to ask better questions rather than give answers, and inclined to lean into rather than avoid the messiness of our maturing profession. These most trusted advisors cannot maintain an arms-length.

Despite our many differences, Ellen and I could not be more aligned in our understanding of both the challenges and opportunities in professional fundraising. Ellen’s critique of fundraising counsel is in large part that the profession is unwilling or unable to address the more fundamental and often messy problems that interfere with fundraising effectiveness. Her mid-career transition from corporate sales and marketing to nonprofit fundraising has afforded her an opportunity to impart wisdom that has ensured profitability and success for major corporations in the private sector.

Coincidently, similar to one of the earlier interviews, Ellen included some of the wisdom of Jim Collins’ Good to Great. Collins taught us that excellence comes from a willingness to confront the brutal facts. Ellen concludes with the passionate observation that our great leaders should not only demonstrate a willingness to face the brutal facts but an eagerness to identify them.

If you'd like connect with Ellen, I would encourage you to visit her website at www.bristolstrategygroup.com/

If you'd like to be a guest on The Fundraising Talent Podcast, please go to www.lewisfundraising.com/signup

Dec 31, 2018
#25 | Who is helping your organization establish a solid foundation? ​
35:36

Much of my conversation with Jeff begged the question of whether organizations and their leaders have established a firm foundation for successful fundraising. Jeff believes successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound fundraising practices; and the proper nurturing and stewarding of meaningful relationships.

 

Jeff shared with me the impact and influence that Jerold Panas has had in his fundraising career. Jeff is one of many in our field who are very grateful for the contribution that Mr. Panas made to their professional growth and development. As a mentor and friend, Mr. Panas afforded Jeff a solid foundation on which he has established his own practice.

 

As with each conversation in this series, we considered some of the reasons why campaign feasibility studies get a bad wrap. Jeff believes that one of the primary reasons is simply because so many feasibility studies are done so poorly. A well-executed study should give the organization a foundation on which to carry out a well-informed and well-orchestrated campaign.

 

At the conclusion of our conversation, Jeff suggested that our listeners visit his blog Bedrocks & Beacons which is hosted by Nonprofit PRO. For those who would like to reach Jeff, feel free to email him at Jeff@lighthousecounsel.com

 

As a reminder, today's broadcast is the fifth of six interviews where we are taking a closer look at the role of fundraising counsel. Be sure to come back tomorrow for our final interview in this year-end series.

Dec 30, 2018
#24 | Do we have the right people on the bus and in the right seats?
31:05

I was surprised to learn that Joan and I began our fundraising careers in very similar places. Joan happened upon fundraising at a children’s home in eastern Kentucky where it was discovered that her strengths aligned with the task. I too began my fundraising career at a children’s home in southwest Virginia.

Much of my conversation with Joan was about whether consultants and their clients were in the right roles and for the right reasons. It reminded me of the wisdom many of us have read in Jim Collins’ Good to Great. First, fundraising counsel can help ensure that an organization has the right people on the bus (First Who... Then What), and fundraising counsel should always conclude the engagement with the organization at a higher place than where it started (Level 5 Leadership).

We conclude our conversation with honest yet difficult questions of whether some consultants maintain an arms-length posture with their clients in large part because they discovered that fundraising really wasn't for them. It’s unfortunate that some consultants have hung their shingle in an attempt to remedy a poor career decision.

If you'd like to connect with Joan, she suggested visiting her website at www.baumgartnerbrown.com or email her at joan@baumgartnerbrown.com. She would be delighted to hear from you.

As a reminder, today's broadcast is the fourth in a series of six where we are taking a closer look at the role of fundraising counsel.

Dec 29, 2018
#23 | Fundraising Consultants:"We're not gurus..."
37:48

Jim Langley refers to himself as a concerned practitioner. The way that he describes the role of fundraising counsel is much like that of a cartographer. Someone who understands the current landscape, who has traversed similar paths before, yet maintains a learning posture, always aware that the landscape is changing. Jim believes that too few organizations are aware of the evolutionary changes occurring in our sector and prefer instead to keep their heads in the ground.

Some of the factors that have changed the landscape are the decline in trust of institutions, the tendency to ignore anything that resembles mass marketing, different worldviews and values, and an entrepreneurial mindset that insists on a strong value proposition and a clear societal return on investment.
The role of fundraising counsel is to ensure that everyone is looking at the same map. Her role is to ensure that everyone is strategically positioned, knows the direction in which they are moving, and is able evaluate progress. Counsel may be most beneficial when a new course must be charted.

Jim concluded our conversation with two very profound thoughts that are certainly applicable to anyone in an advisory role. A history professor once encouraged Jim to “be what's missing.” This has been a defining characteristic of his career – to identify where the gaps are and play that role for his client. Jim also insisted that to play this adaptive role, one must be humble: “We're not gurus, we're not sitting on high, and you know, putting out pronouncements based on eminent wisdom. If we're not still learning, if we're not still humble enough to continue to learn, I don't think we can be effective consultants.”

If you have enjoyed listening to this conversation with Jim, I would encourage you to reach out to Jim. Jim can be found on LinkedIn as well as at Langley Innovations.

As a reminder, this is the third in a series of six conversations in which we take a closer look at the role of fundraising counsel. Please be sure to come back tomorrow for the next broadcast.

Dec 28, 2018
#22 | Is your fundraising consultant relying too much on a cookie cutter approach?
33:04
It was especially evident that Kathy Drucquer Duff wants to ensure that she is making a meaningful and strategic contribution for her clients. She recognizes that many organizations are doing great things and she wants to be sure that she’s contributing to their progress. From the outset of an engagement, she wants to ensure that the team is receptive to her being there. Whereas some organizations might perceive fundraising counsel as being there to fix problems, she wants to be recognized as being there to build on existing strengths.
 
Kathy has evidently wrestled with the effectiveness of the traditional feasibility study. Similar to the listening campaign that I routinely recommend to our clients, Kathy often recommends consultation dinners. It is important that fundraising counsel is adaptive and not relying too much on a cookie cutter approach.
 
Kathy’s very candid observation is that many campaigns have become perfunctory and therefore lack the ability to truly inspire transformational giving. For this reason, organizational leaders are wise to very carefully consider who they are partnering with. Capital campaigns are the last place we want to discover that we have a halfhearted or inattentive consultant.
 
If you have enjoyed listening to this conversation with Kathy, I would encourage you to reach out to her. Kathy can certainly be found on LinkedIn as well as at KDD Philanthropy.
 
As a reminder, this is the second in a series of six conversations in which we take a closer look at the role of fundraising counsel. Please be sure to come back tomorrow for the next broadcast. If you'd like to be a guest on The Fundraising Talent Podcast in 2019, please email me here.
Dec 27, 2018
#21 | Does your nonprofit need an experienced set of eyes and ears?
37:49

I am delighted to have Jay Frost as our first special guest in this series in which we are taking a closer look at the role of fundraising counsel. In addition to his own firm, Frost on Fundraising, Jay is a Senior Consultant to Panas, Linzy and Partners; a Senior Consultant to Brian Lacy and Associates; and an adviser to DonorSearch.

In this conversation, Jay characterizes the the role of fundraising counsel as an independent, internal set of eyes and ears that can see and hear what their donor is telling them. Fundraising counsel affords their client perspective of how the donor sees a proposal or idea. Similarly, fundraising counsel ensures that the client can hear more than just the internal voices in their head.

Even as fundraising counsel affords a critically important set of eyes and ears, Jay raises concerns about the sometimes narrow focus that we can have on donors who can give the most significant gifts. While helpful for ensuring a successful campaign, Jay believes this focused lens limits our perspective of where resources may be coming from in the future. It’s our job to ensure that clients can efficiently accomplish their goals while not limiting their understanding of the broader community.

Oftentimes the feasibility study is the first opportunity for fundraising counsel to afford their client this extra set of eyes and ears. Jay points to the opportunity that the feasibility study creates to facilitate some of the tough conversations that a donor may not otherwise be inclined to have. The study is designed to get around some of the communication barriers and gathers valuable information that can impact the success of a forthcoming campaign.

Jay admits that he sometimes gets himself in trouble for allowing feasibility study interviews go too long. However, the risk of frustrating someone doesn’t outweigh the chance of missing an important detail that might have a bearing on the campaign. Jay’s experience has shown that the greater the donors capacity to contribute to or influence the direction of a campaign, the more flexible and patient we should be when meeting with them.

If you enjoyed listening to my conversation with Jay Frost, I would encourage you to reach out to him. He can be found at LinkedIn as well as at www.frostonfundraising.com/

As a reminder, this is the first in a series of six conversations in which we take a closer look at the role of fundraising counsel. Please be sure to come back tomorrow for the next broadcast.

Dec 26, 2018
#20 | How do we remedy the sector’s misguided assumptions about fundraising?
37:04

Ericka Harney is a fundraising professional, college professor, consultant and lifetime member of the Girl Scouts. On so many levels, my conversation with Ericka had me thinking about my own experiences with nonprofits and my forthcoming maiden voyage as an adjunct this spring. Ericka has in many ways committed herself to resolving the misguided assumptions of how nonprofits should and should not operate.

Ericka finds much satisfaction when she has the opportunity to train and teach. She has observed that most fundraising professionals are self-aware and highly capable of adapting themselves to their donors’ expectations. However, their awareness may be lacking when it comes to internal barriers and communications challenges that interfere with their effectiveness.

We spent the second half of our conversation with a familiar case study – Girl Scout Cookies. Ericka insists that this organization has long struggled with the mistaken assumption that the cookie program is intended for fundraising when, in fact, its purpose is to be the world’s largest girl-run entrepreneurial effort. Similar to where we started, nonprofits and their fundraisers are wise to ensure everyone understands their operating models and to learn how to accurately convey this to their constituency.

For our listeners who would like to connect with Ericka, visit her website at ErickaHarney.com or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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As a reminder, we will wrap up 2018 with a special six-part series where we will take a closer look at fundraising counsel. Many have heard me say that the fundraising profession is in the midst of a messy adolescence. Likewise, I believe that those of us to whom non-profits go for advice are experiencing some growing pains of our own. As you’ve come to expect, I don’t mind asking questions in order to better understand why this might be. Rather than assert my own opinions, I decided we would enlist the opinions of a diverse group who are providing fundraising counsel and ask them what they think some of our challenges and opportunities might be. This special series will begin on December 26.

And I would also like to alert our listeners that we are currently organizing our 2019 line-up. If you would like to be a guest in 2019, please see the link in our show notes or go to www.lewisfundraising.com/signup/  

Dec 20, 2018
#19 | How do fundraisers engage the likes of Mark Zuckerberg?
40:52

I really enjoyed this conversation with Shelley Birdsong Maddex who has more than two decades experience as a corporate and foundation relations fundraiser. Shelley's experience affords her perspective of today’s investment-minded donor who is unlike the donor many of us knew earlier in our careers.

I appreciated Shelley’s suggestions for how we can engage with this modern donor in order to earn their confidence and to ensure that we are speaking a similar language before we solicit this person’s financial support.

I got real sense of Shelley’s confidence and experience when she responded to my question about how to engage with the likes of Mark Zuckerberg.

If your organization desires to improve its corporate and foundation relations efforts, or if you simply want to join the conversation the two of us started here, I would encourage you to reach out to Shelley here. You may also visit her website at www.thebirdsonggroup.net/ 

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As a reminder, we will wrap up 2018 with a special six-part series where we will take a closer look at fundraising counsel. Many have heard me say that the fundraising profession is in the midst of a messy adolescence. Likewise, I believe that those of us to whom non-profits go for advice are experiencing some growing pains of our own. As you’ve come to expect, I don’t mind asking questions in order to better understand why this might be. Rather than assert my own opinions, I decided we would enlist the opinions of a diverse group who are providing fundraising counsel and ask them what they think some of our challenges and opportunities might be. This special series will begin on December 26.

And I would also like to alert our listeners that we are currently organizing our 2019 line-up. If you would like to be a guest in 2019, please see the link in our show notes or go to my website www.lewisfundraising.com/signup/  

 


Dec 14, 2018
#18 | What if vulnerability is fundraising's missing ingredient?
41:59
I have enjoyed getting to know Leslie Imhoof, Assistant Director of the Annual Fund at Susquehanna University, over the last several months. Leslie believes the best word to describe her role is that of a connector. She describes herself as a learner and listener - two critically important skills in a fundraiser’s toolbox. Much of our conversation was about fundraisers finding the right posture in their relationships with donors.
 
Leslie believes fundraising at its best is like putting together a puzzle: making the right connections between people with those places where they can experience greatest meaning.
 
In some cases, this means the fundraiser must be willing to take a back seat and afford a another representative the opportunity to take the lead in the relationship.
 
Leslie has discovered that vulnerability is messy and uncomfortable yet lends itself powerfully to creating meaningful relationships with our donors. She knows first hand how letting one’s guard down can dramatically enhance and establish trust in a relationship.
 
If you'd like to connect with Leslie, she suggested reaching out to her via LinkedIn.
Dec 05, 2018
#17 | Taking the lid off of tough subjects that our sector can't ignore
34:34

My guest this week is Sam Laprade. Sam has earned her stripes as a fundraising professional. She owns a data-analytics company and has made a successful transition into consulting. At the recent AFP conference in Toronto, Sam was the closing plenary. In front of hundreds of her peers and unsure of what the reaction might be, Sam courageously tackled sexual harassment, workplace bullying, and mental health.

 

Her message was not only well-received, but it concluded with extraordinary applause, a standing ovation, and continues to create discussion on social media. When I reached out to Sam about being a guest on the podcast, I was delighted that she was so eager to share some of her courageous message with our listeners.

 

It’s remarkable to hear about some of the discussions that Sam has since had with individuals in our field who have had similar experiences and desire an opportunity to talk through them. Sam is quite determined to have this conversation at least 100 more times. If you’re an organizer for a local AFP chapter, CASE district, or another professional association, I would encourage you to reach out to her.

 

If you'd like to connect with Sam, feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn or visit her website at www.samlaprade.com 

 

As a reminder, we have a special six-part series that will broadcast the last week of 2018 between Christmas and New Years. Most of you have heard me say that the fundraising profession is in the midst of a messy adolescence. Likewise, I believe that those of us to whom non-profits go for advice are experiencing some growing pains of our own. As you’ve come to expect, I don’t mind asking questions in order to better understand why this might be. Rather than assert my own opinions, I decided we would enlist the opinions of a diverse group who are providing council and ask them what they think some of our challenges and opportunities might be. This special series will begin on December 26.

Nov 29, 2018
#16 | Saying “thank you” isn’t rocket science, so why don’t we do it?
37:00
As it’s the week of Thanksgiving, we couldn’t have a more timely broadcast. My conversation with Sandi Bliss, Chief Advancement Officer for the Virginia Tech Corp of Cadets, was all about the importance of expressing sincere gratitude and being a great listener.
 
Sandi’s role at Virginia Tech has afforded her a place where she can honor her father and the service he gave to his country. It was very evident throughout our conversation that Sandi considers her work a privilege and is very grateful for this opportunity.
 
Sandi has learned that effective stewardship is by far one of the greatest investments in ensuring long-term support from a donor. The most talented fundraisers have discovered the remarkable power of saying “thank you.”
 
One of the most important lessons that Sandi wishes she learned earlier in her career was that no one owns or controls the donor. What is within our control is our ability to listen and steward the relationship.
 
If you'd like to connect with Sandi, she suggested you reach out to her on LinkedIn.
Nov 20, 2018
#15 | Is there a personality type best suited for fundraising?
29:08
We kicked off our conversation with Wendy’s “five-before-ten” which is a deliberate practice of writing five handwritten notes to her donors every day before 10am. Wendy is a major gifts officer at the United States Naval Institute.
 
Much of our conversation focused on understanding who we are as fundraisers, similarly understanding our donors, and certainly understanding the organizational culture where we work.
 
What I found to be especially intriguing was Wendy’s journey to fundraising which began with a journey to better understand herself. After discovering that her original career path was not in sync with who she was, Wendy began searching for opportunities that aligned with her personality. After a year of career counseling and interviewing a hundred people, Wendy discovered that major gift fundraising was an excellent fit for her extroverted, curious and strategic personality.
 
In addition to understanding ourselves and our donors, we also discussed how important it is to understand your organizational culture. As would be expected of a military organization, everything is strategic and concrete at the US Naval Institute. For example, even when the chemistry between her and a particular donor is strong, Wendy knows how to take a back seat and allow her CEO and/or board to take the lead in a relationship. She also recognizes that the organization’s modus operandi is to stick with the plan and adhere to a clear chain of command.
If you'd like to connect with Wendy, feel free to reach out on LinkedIn.
Nov 13, 2018
#14 | Does your donor really want their name permanently inscribed on your building?
40:53

This was certainly a thought-provoking conversation about what donors are really after in their relationship with our nonprofit organizations. Patricia is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Heurista Institute. Like many of us, Patricia happened upon fundraising by mistake and discovered it to be a very rich and rewarding place to study and understand human behavior and relationships.

Patricia has made the observation that what makes an individual an awesome fundraiser, terrific at honing in and connecting with a human and taking them on a journey to a gift, is not the same skillset that you need to lead a very complex organization.

We agreed that fundraising needs better metrics and a healthier way to track progress in the relationship without zeroing in solely on the closing of gifts.

One of the questions we asked was whether today's donor wants their name inscribed on your nonprofit’s building; or do they want a partnership that resembles a conversation among people who want to make a unique impact in the world.

For listeners who may want to reach out to Patricia, here is her LinkedIn profile.

If you’re interested in learning more about Jeffersonian Dinners, I would recommend Jennifer McRae’s The Generosity Network.

For those who are interested in Penelope Burke’s research, visit her site.

Clay Shirky’s Ted Talk can be found here.

Nov 07, 2018
#13 | Are we creating the illusion of meaningful relationships with our donors?
28:53

Leesa Harwood has spent nearly three decades as a fundraising professional in the UK and US. She now owns By the Waves Charity Consulting. As we are accustomed to doing on this show, Leesa shared some of the difficult questions that she believes we are avoiding in the nonprofit sector.

 

Leesa recognizes three types of organizations: those that wouldn’t want to be bothered with such difficult questions, those that believe they have tactical issues to address, and those that recognize that tactical issues are symptoms of a root cause. This third category of organizations would be most inclined to ask the difficult questions that Leesa and I discussed.

 

Here are some of the thought-provoking questions that we discussed:

  • Does tension between mission drift and donor intent reflect flawed planning that hasn’t incorporated the donor into the process soon enough?
  • Have organizations created the illusion of a meaningful relationship with their donors?
  • Will direct giving platforms ultimately beat fundraisers at their own game by creating a more meaningful experience for the donor?

Anyone who might like to continue this conversation with Leesa is encouraged to email her at leesaharwood@talktalk.net 

Oct 24, 2018
#12 | The Silver Lining in Turnover Among Fundraising Professionals
34:11

There is a silver lining in the high turnover among fundraising professionals: the opportunity to understand how fundraising plays out in different contexts. After growing up and beginning her fundraising career in the mid-Atlantic, Amanda and her husband transitioned to the southeast in order to pursue some new opportunities.

Amanda Fabrizio-Grzesik, M.Ed. is Director of Development at Tennessee Technological University. In many ways her career reflects EAB’s curious chameleon research that intrigued many of us several years ago. Whereas she was accustomed to everyone talking faster, louder, and with their hands, Amanda's new post has allowed her to develop an appreciation for a different pace of life, indirect communication and a healthier work-life balance.

Transitions often allow us to better understand the history of an organization, its structure, and its funding streams. Amanda has observed how historically state-funded institutions are beginning to catch up with the fundraising capacities of private institutions.

The ability to be transparent, show kindness, and demonstrate great communication skills are essential for all fundraisers and will enable fundraisers to bridge even the most difficult of barriers.

For those interested in reading Amanda's blog, go to Fabulous Fundraising.

Amanda can also be found on LinkedIn.

For those who may be interested in EAB's Curious Chameleon research, start here.

Oct 20, 2018
#11 | Taking a fresh look at some of the sector's most enduring fundraising challenges
21:29
I’m very grateful that before we wrapped up our work week, I was able to catch up with Jeanne Long, Senior Director of Advancement at Hope for the Warriors. Jeanne and her team of organizers for Philanthropy Day on Cape Cod have enlisted me to stir things up later this month. I have been charged with confronting arms-length fundraising and other patterns of organizational behavior that prevent us from accomplishing our goals.
 
After becoming an enthusiastic fan of my new book, Jeanne and I have enjoyed several conversations about how the sector should take a fresh look at some of the it’s most enduring fundraising challenges.
 
Arms-length fundraising assigns a name to the dysfunctional pattern of organizational behavior that is familiar to most experienced fundraisers.
 
The sector’s passion predicament, also known as the donative labor hypothesis, affords an explanation for how nonprofit leaders rationalize less than competitive wages for employees who derive intrinsic value from their work.
 
While organizations are often quick to point fingers at the board for their fundraising challenges, is it foreseeable that CEO’s will be increasingly expected to “manage up” and recognize that low expectations of the board can have negative ripple effects throughout the entire organization?
 
For those who would like to begin a conversation with Jeanne, she can be found at LinkedIn
 
And for those who are not familiar with the donative labor hypothesis, here's a good place to start.
Oct 13, 2018
#10 | The Importance of Keeping Our Confidence Up as Fundraisers
24:52
April Ellison is the Director or Individual Philanthropy at the Detroit Zoological Society. I’m looking forward to meeting April and other fundraisers next week while I'm in Detroit for an engagement at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital.
 
I really appreciated April’s willingness to begin our conversation with an experience where doubt could have gotten the best of her. It reminded me of Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous quote, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” As a woman, a fundraiser charged with the responsibly of asking powerful people for big checks, and the mother of a twelve year-old daughter, April recognizes how important it is to keep her confidence up, be willing to take risks, and lean into the possibility of failure.
 
While being aware of the power dynamics that usually play out in our work, April attributes her success in fundraising to ensuring meaningful connections, discovering what she and her donors have in common instead of what is different, and recognizing everyone first and foremost as human beings.
 
If you'd like to connect with April to continue this conversation or begin another, feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn.
Oct 10, 2018
#9 | Is the mass acquisition approach to fundraising broken?
36:46

I was eager to talk to Samuel Butler for two reasons: first, he is our first guest on the show from the other side of the Atlantic; and second, it was apparent in some of our earlier conversations that the two of us share a similar critique of contemporary fundraising practices. Sam is the Director of Fundraising and Communications at Tibet Relief Fund, a member of the Institute of Fundraising’s Policy Board as well as a member of the Commission on the Donor Experience.

 

Our conversation began with the question of whether the mass acquisition model of fundraising is broken. We discussed challenges arise when agencies no longer serve a broad range of organizations and instead narrow their focus to organizations that can afford the largest volumes. This tendency will become especially problematic when we consider mass acquisition efforts implemented on a global scale.

 

We also discussed:

 

• The recent interrogation of fundraising practices in the United Kingdom is in large part a response the Olive Cooke tragedy in 2015.

• The traditional donor pyramid has become swollen with an overwhelmingly large number of donors who are only contributing at low levels.

• Fundraising practice is complicated by the churn in leadership and strategy that interferes with consistency of thought, purpose and action over a long period of time.

 

Sam suggested the following links for our listeners who are not familiar with some what we discussed:

 

Link to Sofii here (which I mentioned): http://sofii.org/

 

Link to the DEP SIG here: https://www.institute-of-fundraising.org.uk/championing-fundraising/donor-experience/

 

Link to Charity Slam here: https://www.charityslam.com/ 

 

Sam's recent blog post @ Charity Slam: https://www.charityslam.com/single-post/2018/10/04/Running-to-Stand-Still

Oct 05, 2018
#8 | Fundraisers Believe Deeply and Connect with the Mission on a Heart Level
26:25

This is the first special Sunday installment of The Fundraising Talent Podcast where we talk to someone who isn’t a frontline fundraiser but rather someone who is actively identifying fundraising talent for his clients. Jonathan McIntosh is a Nonprofit Development Recruiter at ThinkingAhead Executive Search in Nashville. Jonathan agreed to share with me some perspective of what it looks like to identify fundraising talent in today’s competitive market.

Jonathan shared his insights into the organization’s readiness for fundraising talent and the recognition that, at a minimum, some organizations may need to mature their understanding of fundraising operation before they hire an experienced fundraiser. I also appreciated Jonathan’s characterization of meaningful engagement that reveals a creativity of approach, an ability to push through resistance, and a willingness to make sure the timing is right for the donor’s gift.

Some of the other key points of our conversation:

  • A great fundraising candidate is someone who loves and cares for the donor and who doesn’t just see dollar signs.
  • Sometimes organizations are not prepared for major gifts, and it’s important to understand that hiring a top-notch candidate isn’t necessarily the way to fix that.
  • A good fundraising professional is someone who is first a great listener.
  • Organizations often wait too long before they enlist the help of a recruiter.
  • The best candidates are not looking for new opportunities but are actively doing the same job a new employer would expect of them.

If you’d like to connect with Jonathan, he suggested reaching out to him via LinkedIn.

Sep 30, 2018
#7 | Fundraising Affords Us the Opportunity to Create Massive Impact
28:08
It was evident in my conversation with Liz Schriner, a Major Gifts Officer at Franciscan University of Steubenville, that she has found fundraising to be fulfilling work on a practical level as well as on a deep, spiritual level. As our listeners will discover, her passion for fundraising evolves from her faith which allows her to be thoughtful and deliberate about her work.
 
For much of our conversation, we contemplated what could be expected of a newcomer in the field versus what we have come to expect of someone with experience. We also made observations about what a newcomer is likely to learn in the field directly with donors as compared to training seminar.
 
In this conversation, we discussed:
  • The experience of fundraising often occurs on a transactional level, a relationship level and a spiritual level.
  • The job of a fundraiser requires a great deal of sophistication, transparency, and emotional intelligence.
  • Employers have to give fundraising professionals permission to be forthright about their lack of experience in awkward or less than familiar scenarios.
  • Fundraising affords us an opportunity to create massive impact and to play a critical role in how we do fantastic things in the world.
For those who would like to connect with Liz, she can be found on LinkedIn.
Sep 28, 2018
#6 | Aligning Ourselves with the Donor's Passion
20:30
Skeeter Sellers, Assistant Director of Development at The University of West Alabama, originally reached out to me to talk about the new book and my upcoming visit to Birmingham. In our conversations, it is evident that Skeeter has developed a commitment to meaningful engagement with his donors. He has discovered that fundraising can be very meaningful work and that our greatest opportunities are to align our donors passion with the needs of the institution we represent. He has also discovered the importance of teamwork and how working strategically with colleagues makes up for some of the disadvantages we assume to be true of small shops.
 
In this conversation, we considered:
  • The definition of fundraising is to meet current needs whereas development aligns a donors passion with their financial support.
  • One way to address professional turnover is to ensure the organization has the advantages of a systematic fundraising program that puts the donors in first place.
  • As fundraisers we align ourselves with people who are passionate about a cause. Achieving this alignment is how we create long-term, sustainable support.
  • The assumed weaknesses of a small shop can become strengths if everyone is working as team.

If you'd like to connect with Skeeter, he suggested reaching out to him on LinkedIn.

Sep 14, 2018
#5 | Investing in the Next Generation of Fundraising Professionals
24:12

I’m grateful for the invitation to be a part of the 2018 AFP-Alabama Educational Conference later this month. I’m especially grateful that Kristie Nix-Moorer, Development Director at the YMCA of Greater Birmingham, agreed to afford me some insider perspective of the local philanthropic community before I arrive. It was evident throughout our conversation that Kristie is committed to advancing our profession and investing in the next generation of fundraising professionals.

In this conversation, Kristie and I discussed:

  • With fundraising professionals changing jobs as often as they sometimes do, how does an organization ensure they are hiring the right candidate for the job?
  • Whether some nonprofit organizations develop a reputation for having an ineffective fundraising program.
  • How important is the relationship between a fundraising professional and the CEO?
  • As we wrapped up, we considered whether women more so than men might find success in leadership roles that necessiate cultivating meaningful relationshops and other fundraising responsibilities.

If you would like to connect with Kristie, she can be found here on LinkedIn.

For more information about the 2018 AFP-Alabama Educational Conference.

Sep 06, 2018
#4 | Leaning Into Our Identity as a Fundraising Professional
35:22

Tina.jpg

After listening to my conversation with Klementina, I was reminded of just how difficult it can be for some of us to lean into our identity as a professional fundraiser. I recall my own hesitancies at times when someone asked, "what do you do?" I have enjoyed getting to know Klementina Sula, Chief Development Officer at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital and am especially eager to spend some time with her and her colleagues in late October. 

Some key points that the two of us discussed were:

  • At our best, we fundraisers are connectors and we help bridge the relationship between a generous individual and their passions.
  • To ensure rewarding relationships with our colleagues in non-fundraising roles, we have to build trust and earn their confidence.
  • In the way that we often want to be invited to the table when decisions are being made in other departments, we too need to be quick to engage others within the organization and invite them to our table.
  • For fear of being exposed, are fundraising professionals less inclined to reveal the messiness, uncertainly and vulnerability that characterizes our work?

If you're interested in connecting with Klementina, she can be found here on LinkedIn.

Aug 27, 2018
#3 | Developing Our Strengths As Highly, Effective Fundraisers
23:16

Steph.jpg

I have enjoyed getting to know Stephanie Wollenburg through my involvement with the Association of Lutheran Development Executives earlier this year. Stephanie is the Assistant Director of Development at Long Island Lutheran and a leader in ALDE's young professionals group. ALDE is a remarkable network of fundraising professionals who share a common commitment to their faith and vocation. In this most recent conversation, Stephanie described a number of ways that fundraising professionals can ensure their path to becoming highly-effective fundraisers.

  • Whereas being friendly and outgoing are important skills, the ability to quietly listen and observe is a critical skill for fundraising professionals to develop.
  • Fundraising professionals should seek out an employer who demonstrates a strategic balance of patience and expectations.
  • While our economy transitions towards increased automation and digital communication, fundraising can become one of the places where people find meaningful engagement.
  • Arms-length fundraising is quick and easy whereas the expectation of meaningful engagement and meaningful support requires discipline and a deliberate, systematic approach.

If you're interested in connecting with Stephanie, she can be found here on LinkedIn.

 

Aug 20, 2018
#2 | Be the Energy You Want to Attract
20:53

Colton.jpg

I really enjoyed this second episode of The Fundraising Talent Podcast. I am grateful to have met Colton during the recent launch of my book and have enjoyed our ongoing conversation about what it means to be a fundraising professional in today's economy. In this second episode of The Fundraising Talent Podcast, we considered the following questions:

  • What are the characteristics that are most important to our profession?
  • Does the intensity of fundraising make it an especially difficult career path for some to stick with?
  • How many of our donors are aware of the "culture of metrics" that drives some fundraising operations?
  • Does a sales mentality to fundraising create a barrier to the most transformational experiences?

If you're interested in connecting with Colon, he can be found here on LinkedIn.

Aug 13, 2018
#1 | Do stereotypes get in the way of our effectiveness?
26:18

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I have enjoyed reviewing this conversaton that I recently had with Lauren. We began with the questions of who "owns the realtionship" with a donor and whether an introvert might be particularly well-suited for cultivating meaningful relationships. I appreciated Lauren's thoughts about the myths we tend to attribute to the digital donor and her willingness to challenge the notion that some advantages in fundraising are limited to big shops.

While still working out some of the kinks in the production of the show, I am delighted with how well this one turned out. For those of us who have been around for a while, it's high time we stop talking and start doing more listening. 

Aug 06, 2018