Philanthropy, Not Fundraising: I Have a Dream

Moonrise large Philanthropy, Not Fundraising: I Have a Dream

I have a dream…

I have a dream for 2014 – and beyond. I have a dream  this is the year your organization will move beyond defining yourself by what you’re not (nonprofit) and will begin to define yourself by what you are (social benefit). I have a dream  this is the year your people will move from an attitude of taking and hitting people up (aka “fundraising”) to a mindset of giving and lifting people up (aka “philanthropy”). I have a dream this is the year your staff and volunteers will move from enacting transactions to enabling transformation.

I have a dream you will push yourself and your organization towards transformative change. You will take the bull by the horns, adapt to the digital revolution and open yourself to the possibilities that change brings. You will give up on the static donor pyramid, ladder and funnel theory of engagement and put your donor at the center of a new, active engagement model that reflects the myriad ways people connect with organizations and causes today.

I have a dream you will learn who your best influencers  and advocates are and you will embrace them.  You will recognize you are no longer your best messenger. You will understand that many forces beyond you influence your donor’s decision to invest with you, and you will expand your thinking and operations from a one-dimensional to a multi-dimensional model.  You will allow your constituents to engage with you at multiple points of entry, and to move freely between these points during the lifecycle of their engagement.

Sun will rise Philanthropy, Not Fundraising: I Have a Dream

… the sun will rise…

I have a dream you will ask not what your donors can do for you, but what you can do for your donors.  You will recognize that they don’t serve you; you serve them. You will embrace the true meaning of philanthropy as love of humankind.  You will remember that your donors are humankind; you must love them if you want to be a part of philanthropy.  Otherwise, you’re just transacting business.

I have a dream you will reevaluate your raison d’etre.  You will ask yourself whether you’re in the business of selling, and you won’t answer cavalierly.You will not pat yourself on the back for being different than your for profit brethren.  You will not tell yourself that nonprofits are about mission and values and doing good deeds; whereas for profits are about greed and sales.  You will reevaluate why people compare ‘making the ask’ to ‘making the sale.’

I have a dream you will embrace your role as a salesperson, understanding how fundamentally human this is.You will understand that selling (the very definition of which is to exchange or deliver for money or its equivalent) is something that we’re constantly doing. And you will have an “ah ha” moment that this is also what fundraising is about — a value-for-value exchange.  A donor gives something of value (money or an in-kind good or service) and the charity returns something of value to the donor.  As Daniel Pink writes in his new book To Sell Is Humanthe ability to move others to exchange what they have for what we have is crucial to our survival and our happiness. It has helped our species evolve, lifted our living standards, and enhanced our daily lives. The capacity to sell isn’t some unnatural adaption to the merciless world of commerce.  It is part of who we are.

Parting clouds Philanthropy, Not Fundraising: I Have a Dream

… the clouds will part…

I have a dream you will come from a place of love, not need. When interacting with your supporters you will do more than tell folks how much money you require. You will consider how your supporters benefit and what’s in it for them if they invest with you. You will help people to value your accomplishments by assuring they understand your impact.  You will recognize that if you don’t demonstrate impact, then you can’t expect folks to worry what might happen were you to be unable to grow or, even worse, cease to exist.

I have a dream you will speak to peoples’ hearts; not just their heads. You will become aware that if the bulk of your communication with supporters is about numbers, finances and pie charts rather than stories of real people being helped, it will become increasingly difficult to expect anyone to care enough about your mission to invest in your success. You absolutely must clarify your stories and share them.

I have a dream your leaders will embrace a culture of philanthropy that engulfs your entire organization.  You will eliminate silos and include everyone in the transformative power of your mission. You will make sure that everyone associated with your organization is clear about the values you enact and has stories they can tell about the ways you help to repair our world. Philanthropy will become the glue that binds everyone together – every department and every volunteer – working towards a common goal.

Rainbow Philanthropy, Not Fundraising: I Have a Dream

… and it will be because of the light you shine.

I have a dream you will engage in philanthropy; not fundraising. You will embrace the fact that just as business has changed fundamentally, so must fundraising change fundamentally. You will accept that we’re all social businesses now; merely “transacting” no longer cuts it. You will agree that for too long fundraising has been approached as transactional – as being primarily about money – and that this approach results in fundraising being seen at best as an onerous chore; a necessary evil.  You will see that philanthropy is fundamentally social; it’s about love — and nothing could be more transformational.

I have a dream for 2014 – and beyond.  Do you share my dream?

Want to apply this dream — this culture of philanthropy philosophy — to securing more and bigger gifts this year for your nonprofit? This is your LAST WEEK to register for my new 6-week E-Course: Winning Major Gifts Fundraising Strategies for the small and medium-size shop. No more “hitting people up.” We’ll talk about setting achievable goals,  finding the right folks, meeting them,  moving them along a continuum and, ultimately,  inspiring folks to join you in your mission.  You’ll love this course — or your money back. Register by midnight PST January 25th to reserve your spot!

This article has been modified from an article originally published January 24, 2013 on Clairification.

Photos via Flickr:
55Laney69;lrargerich; Marc Crumpler

 

Your Donor Won’t Eat Your Meal Without Your Secret Sauce

Philanthropy, Not Fundraising

Secret sauce 300x225 Your Donor Wont Eat Your Meal Without Your Secret Sauce

What’s your secret sauce?

There are many other nonprofits out there doing what you do.

Or some reasonable facsimile of what you do. Many of them have similar missions.  But… there’s something that’s different. Don’t try to serve up what you do without your secret sauce.Continue Reading

WARNING: Your Donor is Getting Bored

Yawning person 300x225 WARNING: Your Donor is Getting Bored

You’re doing the opposite of inspiring me. Zzzzz…

I randomly checked out some nonprofit mission statements yesterday. I was going to check a few more, but… YAWN… I fell asleep.

I’m not kidding. 

I don’t want to embarrass anyone, butContinue Reading

Purely Practical SMIT: 4 Keys to Never Lose the Why

Never lose the why e1363822753557 Purely Practical SMIT: 4 Keys to Never Lose the Why

By Hugh MacLeod

Philanthropy; Not Fundraising

This month’s SMIT (Single Most Important Thing I have to tell you) is to never lose sight of the “Why.”  And total props to Hugh MacLeod (whose brilliant cartoon is shared here) for the reminder. It’s a simple concept; not so simple to comply.Continue Reading

Philanthropy, Not Fundraising: I Have a Dream

Moonrise large Philanthropy, Not Fundraising: I Have a Dream

I have a dream…

I have a dream for 2013 – and beyond. I have a dream  this is the year your organization will move beyond defining yourself by what you’re not (nonprofit) and will begin to define yourself by what you are (social benefit). I have a dream  this is the year your people will move from an attitude of taking and hitting people up (aka “fundraising”) to a mindset of giving and lifting people up (aka “philanthropy”). I have a dream this is the year your staff and volunteers will move from enacting transactions to enabling transformation.

I have a dream you will push yourself and your organization towards transformative change. You will take the bull by the horns, adapt to the digital revolution and open yourself to the possibilities that change brings. You will give up on the static donor pyramid, ladder and funnel theory of engagement and put your donor at the center of a new, active engagement model that reflects the myriad ways people connect with organizations and causes today.

I have a dream you will learn who your best influencers are and you will embrace them.  You will recognize your are no longer your best messenger. You will understand that many forces beyond you influence your donor’s decision to invest with you, and you will expand your thinking and operations from a one-dimensional to a multi-dimensional model.  You will allow your constituents to engage with you at multiple points of entry, and to move freely between these points during the lifecycle of their engagement.

Sun will rise Philanthropy, Not Fundraising: I Have a Dream

… the sun will rise…

I have a dream you will ask not what your donors can do for you, but what you can do for your donors.  You will recognize that they don’t serve you; you serve them. You will embrace the true meaning of philanthropy as love of humankind.  You will remember that your donors are humankind; you must love them if you want to be a part of philanthropy.  Otherwise, you’re just transacting business.

I have a dream you will reevaluate your raison d’etre.  You will ask yourself whether you’re in the business of selling, and you won’t answer cavalierly.You will not pat yourself on the back for being different than your for profit brethren.  You will not tell yourself that nonprofits are about mission and values and doing good deeds; whereas for profits are about greed and sales.  You will reevaluate why people compare ‘making the ask’ to ‘making the sale.’

I have a dream you will embrace your role as a salesperson, understanding how fundamentally human this is.You will understand that selling (the very definition of which is to exchange or deliver for money or its equivalent) is something that we’re constantly doing. And you will have an “ah ha” moment that this is also what fundraising is about — a value-for-value exchange.  A donor gives something of value (money or an in-kind good or service) and the charity returns something of value to the donor.  As Daniel Pink writes in his new book To Sell Is Humanthe ability to move others to exchange what they have for what we have is crucial to our survival and our happiness. It has helped our species evolve, lifted our living standards, and enhanced our daily lives. The capacity to sell isn’t some unnatural adaption to the merciless world of commerce.  It is part of who we are.

Parting clouds Philanthropy, Not Fundraising: I Have a Dream

… the clouds will part…

I have a dream you will come from a place of love, not need. When interacting with your supporters you will do more than tell folks how much money you require. You will consider how your supporters benefit and what’s in it for them if they invest with you. You will help people to value your accomplishments by assuring they understand your impact.  You will recognize that if you don’t demonstrate impact, then you can’t expect folks to worry what might happen were you to be unable to grow or, even worse, cease to exist.

I have a dream you will speak to peoples’ hearts; not just their heads. You will become aware that if the bulk of your communication with supporters is about numbers, finances and pie charts rather than stories of real people being helped, it will become increasingly difficult to expect anyone to care enough about your mission to invest in your success.

I have a dream your leaders will embrace a culture of philanthropy that engulfs your entire organization.  You will eliminate silos and include everyone in the transformative power of your mission. You will make sure that everyone associated with your organization is clear about the values you enact and has stories they can tell about the ways you help to repair our world. Philanthropy will become the glue that binds everyone together – every department and every volunteer – working towards a common goal.

Rainbow Philanthropy, Not Fundraising: I Have a Dream

… and it will be because of the light you shine.

I have a dream you will engage in philanthropy; not fundraising. You will embrace the fact that just as business has changed fundamentally, so must fundraising change fundamentally. You will accept that we’re all social businesses now; merely “transacting” no longer cuts it. You will agree that for too long fundraising has been approached as transactional – as being primarily about money – and that this approach results in fundraising being seen at best as an onerous chore; a necessary evil.  You will see that philanthropy is fundamentally social; it’s about love — and nothing could be more transformational.

I have a dream for 2013 – and beyond.  Do you share my dream?

Photos via Flickr:
55Laney69;lrargerich; Marc Crumpler

 

4 Ways to Set Board Members Up for Happily Ever After: How Fundraising is Storytelling


storytelling once upon 4 Ways  to Set Board Members Up for Happily Ever After: How Fundraising is Storytelling

In the past series of posts I’ve talked about the reasons many board members loathe fundraising.  It boils down to: (1) fear (see here, here and here; (2) lack of clarity about their role (see here, hereand here, and (3) insufficient framing, training, coaching and cheer leading by staff.  As much as we staff love to blame our board members for failing to step up to the plate, often our first step to find the real culprit should be taking a look in our own mirrors.

Board members often say they will [do fundraising] and then they don’t [follow through]. Do you know why?  You haven’t set them up for success with a clear framework, fantastic training, top-notch coaching and inspiring cheerleading.  You will find that board members deeply appreciate this kind of backup.  They need clear goals, structure and inspiration to wake up their passion and keep them committed to your organization’s success. They need a really compelling story to tell and a way to tell it.
Sadly, staff often contributes to the fear and loathing board members feel when we provide only half-baked direction and support. You may think you’re offering support – and no doubt you are likely doing some things right — yet you may still be falling down in other key areas. Today’s post talks about the role of staff, and suggests four ways staff can do a much better job helping board members succeed in their important role.
love vs money 300x205 4 Ways  to Set Board Members Up for Happily Ever After: How Fundraising is Storytelling

ONE

FRAMING: Setting an approach or query within an appropriate context to achievea desired result or elicit a precise answer.

What if you were to frame ‘fundraising’ for your board as being simply about telling stories; then building relationships with folks who are interested in and intrigued by those stories, and then guiding these interested parties to the place where they, too, can become part of the story?  Whenever my friends say to me: “Oh, your job must be so difficult!  I can’t imagine having to go out and ask people for money,” my response is that I’m not asking people for money. I’m asking people for love.  It’s the difference between ‘fundraising’ and ‘philanthropy’. I ask folks to jump into a really awesome story and become a part of the plot.
When we frame fundraising as merely asking for money we fail to offer our board an appropriate context for their task.  Fundraising must be viewed as a servant to philanthropy. No one is asking for money merely for the sake of money.  They’re asking to serve a greater purpose and are engaging others in a compelling story; then matching folks who are interested in this story with a cause they value and a solution they can endorse.

TWO

 4 Ways  to Set Board Members Up for Happily Ever After: How Fundraising is StorytellingTRAINING:  Organized activity aimed at imparting information and/or instructions to improve the recipient’s performanceor to help him or her attain a required level of knowledge or skill.
When fundraising is framed as storytelling, then training can be ongoing and revolve around the mission: stories of people who are helped and problems that are solved; not simply around sales techniques which many people find distasteful.  If you think hiring someone to come in and lead your board in solicitation role plays is sufficient, think again. Such trainings have a place, but if we start and stop there whatever the board hears will be in one ear and out the other. Our job as staff is to provide ‘mission moments’ on a regular basis so that board members can become truly inspired by the ways the organization is making a real impact in people’s lives.
No one is more wrapped up in your story than your committed, dedicated, passionate board members [or at least this should be the case if you’re doing your job connecting board members to the mission on a regular basis].  No one cares more about sharing this story.   And no one is better positioned to help the story move forward than the prospects with whom your board members are connecting.
storyteller 4 Ways  to Set Board Members Up for Happily Ever After: How Fundraising is Storytelling

THREE

COACHING:  Extending traditional training methods to include focus on (1) an individual’ sneeds and accomplishments, (2) close observation, and (3) impartial and non-judgmental feedback on performance.

Your board members are story tellers.  This is what they do in their role as ambassadors, advocates and askers. Have you ever had a board member complain that “we’re a well-kept secret?” Well, this is what happens when board members aren’t out there in the community sharing your vision, mission and values. If no one tells your story, then no one will care what happens. A story untold will never unfold.
You must teach your board members how to tell the story.  Take them out for coffee.  Talk with them about what inspires them. Ask them to tell you about a story that moved them related to your organization’s work.  Suggest little ways they could share that story with others.  Tell them that talk with them has inspired you!  Help them to understand that fundraising is about doing exactly what the two of you are doing – having coffee… making small talk… learning about what each other cares about… trading stories… and helping one another act on shared values.

51ry6a39cVL 4 Ways  to Set Board Members Up for Happily Ever After: How Fundraising is Storytelling

FOUR
CHEERLEADING:  Being an enthusiastic and vocal supporter
Often we think of cheerleading as rather thoughtless and frothy; the best cheerleaders emphasize the ‘leading.  They inspire action and team spirit. For example, I’m a huge San Francisco Giants fan; they just won the World Series!!! Aside from great pitching and defense, a lot of their win can be attributed to the cheerleading of two players, Brian Wilson (who kept them going all season long) and Hunter Pence (who rallied them with a passionate clubhouse cheerleading session when the Giants, down by two games in a best of five series, were all but counted out).  Passion, especially when it comes from leaders, counts for a lot.
Staff must energetically lead with their own passion to instill passion in others. You’ve got to be excited about what you do.  You got to be excited about the mission of your organization. You’ve got to be excited about being on a team of remarkable individuals – and this includes your board – who are all dedicated to the same vision. You’ve got to actively guide your volunteers towards success. If you doubt the importance of cheerleading, see what some of the Giants players had to say about Hunter Pence’s speech:
“It wasn’t even so much what he said. It was the intensity,” Vogelsong said. “It was a great speech. Nothing off what you’d think you’d hear, but it was the way he said it. I can’t speak for everyone else in the room, but that hit home for me.

Said center fielder Angel Pagan: “We need people like this here. Hunter is a very positive person. It doesn’t matter if the game was 20-0. He believes we can win it. He gave us that energy, that fight.”

inspire be inspired 1 4 Ways  to Set Board Members Up for Happily Ever After: How Fundraising is Storytelling
Just as your board influences their connections and your prospects, so do you have the power to influence your board.  (1) Tell them that fundraising is storytelling; (2) Tell them the story; (3) Help them to tell the story, and (4) Keep telling them what a great job they’re doing with storytelling, and how many people are being affected as a result. When the story is shared with the right people – with inspiring anecdotes and details that staff provide and/or the board members experience first-hand – then, and only then, will your compelling tale have a happy ending!
If you had to choose one key to setting your board members up for success with fundraising, what would it be?

How to End Your Board’s Fear of Fundraising Once and For All in 2 Easy Steps

102210 pleasesir How to End Your Boards Fear of Fundraising Once and For All in 2 Easy Steps
      Why are trustees so nervous about fundraising? I’ve found there are two key reasons.  Understand these reasons, and we can put an end to the fears in two easy steps.
ONE: Overcome Fear of Rejection.  We think we’re asking for ourselves; begging. We’ve been raised that it’s impolite to talk about money.  Even worse, no one wants to be a ‘charity case.’
To help board members face this fear head-on, I ask them in a group session: “When did you give when you felt bad afterwards?” 

I encourage them to share all their stories about guilt, peer pressure, strong arm tactics, etc. and get all their bad energy about fundraising out on the table.  Folks go to town on this one!  Among the most common negative responses:
·        Firefighters. People fear that if they don’t buy tickets to the firefighters’ event then they may be in jeopardy in the event of an alarm.  They give.  But they don’t feel warm and fuzzy about it.  
·        Not my interest. Sometimes a friend asks for a gift to a charity about which we care not one whit.  We’re too embarrassed to confess. We fear if we ask a friend to support our charity the same feelings will be engendered.  But just because we don’t get jazzed about rain forests (and they do) does not mean that we both don’t get jazzed about saving whales. We forget to allow for the possibility that our friend might actually agree with the values enacted by our organization and might relish the opportunity to tender support — given half a chance.  
·        Small stuff. The boxes of cookies, chocolate bars and magazine subscriptions we don’t want.  We don’t feel terrible about this, but it doesn’t make us feel inspired either.
The reasons donors end up feeling bad about giving can be categorized as:
1.      Was coerced
2.      Felt guilty
3.      Didn’t really care about the cause
4.      Wasn’t thanked; didn’t feel appreciated
5.      Didn’t see the impact of my gift
6.      Felt it was just a drop in the bucket
7.      Didn’t feel they really needed the money
Now that all the negatives have been explored, I ask: “When did you give when you felt good afterwards?” Among the most common positive responses:
·        Giving back. Usually where they or a family member or friend were helped.
·        I’m involved.  It’s where they volunteer. Or their kid goes to school.
·        I felt appreciated. They were promptly and personally thanked and also updated on the impact of their gift. 
The reasons donors end up feeling good about giving can be categorized as:
1.      Felt part of something important
2.      Felt proud
3.      Felt joyous
4.      Wished I could do more
5.      Was giving back; paying forward
6.      Met my religious/moral obligation
7.      Saw the impact of my gift
Then I remind folks that these are the same emotions other donors feel when they give money. When a donor makes a gift, he or she becomes a partner in a cause that is bigger than just one person’s life. It’s a way for them to be the change they want to see in the world – and the ‘asker’ facilitates this amazing accomplishment!
You see, as it turns out, if you’re asking for a charity you trust, for a cause you really believe in, for an organization making a demonstrable impact, then these fears of rejection and feelings that one is begging are pretty easy to overcome.
 How to End Your Boards Fear of Fundraising Once and For All in 2 Easy Steps
TWO: Overcome Fear of Lack of Knowledge/Skills. Too often board members do not fully understand their organization, the impact it makes, or its mission well enough to talk about it. They don’t know how to be articulate spokespeople for their organization. We give our board members plenty of materials, but often it’s not the right information or is too full of jargon for board members to use effectively.  Before you even bring up the topic of fundraising, your trustees have to be engaged, active, excited and involved. This may mean involving them in some planning exercises to assure they are aligned about mission , vision and values.
There are a lot of scary problems out there.
Homelessness… Global warming… Domestic violence… Human trafficking… Malaria… Impotable water… Cancer… Injustice… Poverty.
Is fundraising  scarier than doing what needs to be done to solve these problems?
How do you help your board overcome their fears?

Who Else Wants to Feel Successful? The Problem with being Jack of All Trades; Master of None

23113358 Who Else Wants to Feel Successful? The Problem with being Jack of All Trades; Master of None
Why don’t I feel serenity?
Do you feel successful? Think a minute about what you and/or your organization do. Does it feel like enough?  Too much? Does it make you and/or others happy? Fulfilled?  Do you feel successful (or not) based on what other people say and do? Based on how much money you make or how famous you are? Or does fulfillment come from something deep within that defines your purpose? Let’s take a moment to consider the way we define ‘success.’

Is there a ‘secret sauce’ to create success? Recently I watched a YouTube video about mastery from the inimitable cartoonist/philosopher Hugh MacLeod, and I’m persuaded that mastery is the ticket. Not fame. Not fortune. Just doing something really, really well that you love. Hugh talks about seeing a movie called Jiro Dreams of Sushi.  Jiro owns a 10-seat restaurant, underground, in the Tokyo subway.  All he serves is sushi.  He works 365 days/year.  He loves his work. Others love his work.  They wait up to a year in advance to be able to eat there.  They’ll pay $1,000/head.  The tailors of Savile Row in London have a similar model.  They don’t have large overhead.  They aren’t billionaires.  Yet they have a year-long waiting list too.  Sewing buttons, cutting cloth. Sewing buttons, cutting cloth. Over and over.  And they have greater personal satisfaction than folks working on Wall Street for oodles of money. Through mastery. 
Is mastery the secret to fulfillment? Hugh draws all day at his work bench.  He says it’s boring; but he loves it. He, like Jiro and the tailors, does something simple and useful that people value.  The secret sauce?  Mastery. And no one can take this away from you. You take mastery with you wherever you go.
autonomy.1.1 Who Else Wants to Feel Successful? The Problem with being Jack of All Trades; Master of None
Cartoon from Hugh MacLeod, Gaping Void

Mastery is a journey; not a destination. The journey begins whenever we decide to learn a new skill. In the book Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment George Leonard writes about the ways in which mastery leads to greater satisfaction and excellence. He notes that mastery is not reserved for the super-talented.  Anyone can travel this path.

Those on the path to mastery enjoy the practice just for the sake of practice. Even when the work is frustrating, or seemingly not moving forward towards a defined purpose, it’s still enjoyable.  Every step along the way is meaningful, even though the pay-off isn’t quick or easy.

 Who Else Wants to Feel Successful? The Problem with being Jack of All Trades; Master of None
How to win with so many choices?

People who win the lottery don’t feel successful.They feel lucky. And thrilled. But the thrill wears off and they go back to feeling mundane. Sometimes they even feel guilty. It turns out that ‘having it all’ without having found an underlying purpose is not really that satisfying.

The ‘kicker’ is that finding an underlying purpose, and deciding to do something really well, means foregoing other opportunities. You can’t go down all paths simultaneously.  And since the journey towards mastery is long and slow, you can’t go down too many paths sequentially either. So you must choose; then put on blinders to everything else.  Otherwise, you become what Leonard describes as a ‘dabbler’ (yard-long resume filled with 1-year stints) or a ‘hacker’ (passable tennis player, but nothing more) or an ‘obsessive’ (sacrifices enjoyment of the journey for getting to the end result as quickly as possible). In other words, keeping all options open may lead you to become the infamous “Jill of all trades; master of none.

Life in the 21stcentury offers a dazzling array of choices at all times. It’s difficult to decide what to focus on in the next half hour, let alone the next 10 years.  One of the reasons we favor the urgent over the important is it postpones our decision; in our minds we don’t have to give up on anything.  We’re constantly busy and active. Yet we don’t choose to act; the situation chooses us and we react.  And we imagine that this makes us important. Yet does anyone strive to have “Was a part of every email chain” on their gravestone? Choosing not to choose does not lead to fulfillment.
 Who Else Wants to Feel Successful? The Problem with being Jack of All Trades; Master of NoneFulfillment comes when we accept our limitations.  We cannot do everything. But that does not mean we cannot do something (or several things) meaningful.  There is a famous admonition in Judaism, attributed to Rabbi Tarfon, which states “You are not required to complete the task; neither are you free to desist from it.”
If we choose thoughtfully, there are things we can master.  There are things our organization/business can master.  And there are things our supporters, through us, can master as well. These things will be meaningful because we love them, and because others value them.  By embarking on the journey towards mastery, we will achieve fulfillment and success.
 
What have you mastered that people value?
What do you do that is outstanding and that no one else does quite the way you do?
What can your supporters master through you? They may not be able to save the entire world, but who canthey save?

Why You May Be Dull at Work: What You Can Do to Change

no purpose without play Why You May Be Dull at Work: What You Can Do to Change
Remember when summer used to mean time for play?  Have you lost that playful feeling?  Before fall rolls around, let’s see if we can get a bit of it back. Hugh McLeod of Gaping Void recently reminded me that there is no purpose without play. As anyone familiar with nursery rhymes knows, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
We accept that for children their “work” is play; that being free to explore and innovate is how they learn and make sense of the world.   Yet we don’t allow ourselves the same liberties as adults. We forget that we’re all children inside and that perhaps this is still a good way for us to expand our minds… think outside the box… grow… become inspired… and create.
If you’ve ever felt you’re just mind-numbingly working, working, working… tediously running, running, running… monotonously busy, busy, busy – like a hamster on a treadmill – then perhaps a little play is just the ticket to finding new purpose and meaning in your daily routine.

Much has been written on the subject of finding purpose and, towards this end, the importance of channeling a play ethic (See “The PlayEthic”; “Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul”(by Suart Brown, M.D. ). Similarly, research into the science of happiness has shown us that an organizational culture embracing play and joy can be a key to improving employee morale and customer satisfaction – all leading to a purposeful and successful bottom line (Check out  “Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom” (by Rick Hanson); “Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow” (by Chip Conley)). So what are we waiting for?
It’s time to stop plodding through the day, barraging our constituents with messages about why they should do something (e.g., buy a product/service; give a contribution). Let’s stop pressuring and invite folks to do something pleasurable, fun and meaningful. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s book on “Delivering Happiness” is particularly relevant to nonprofits as he also speaks to the importance of concentrating on the happiness of those around you to increase your own.  This means, if we do it right, making our clients and supporters (and co-workers) happy is what will ultimately win the day, enable us to fulfill our missions and make us happier, more passionate and newly purposeful to boot.
We need to cease thinking of play as a distraction and begin celebrating its benefits. How often have you heard an employee complaining, only to have someone else say “if it wasn’t so hard (awful; difficult) they wouldn’t call it “work”? Tony Hsieh reminds us that work doesn’t have to suck. Chip Conley exhorts us to find our own “joie de vivre” by going beyond short-term thinking and the daily grind towards an all-encompassing, joyful vision that bestows a sense of purpose and well-being among all who come into contact with it.
What can you do to become more of a “player”?
What keeps us from moving from a “work ethic” to a “play ethic”?
What playful strategies do you employ? Please share!

Boards and Fundraising: Both Reasonable and Unreasonable.

fotolia 6135122 xs1 Boards and Fundraising: Both Reasonable and Unreasonable.
I’m often asked by frazzled executive directors and well-meaning board members whether it’s reasonable or unreasonable to expect everyboard member to be involved in fundraising.  My answer is yes.
How can we have it both ways?  We have to define our terms. A nonprofit board has a special fiduciary role and responsibility to assure fulfillment of the organization’s mission.  Money must come in the doors. A wonderful series of articles on financing not fundraising your organization (Social Velocity Blog) clues us in to the advantage of making our definition of “bringing money in the door” very broad.
If we give our board members reachable goals they’re more likely to attain them.
Let’s start with the fact that board members wear two gloves: (1) the glove of the board as a whole, and (2) the glove of the individual board member.  Wearing the board glove, the responsibility is to make governance decisions (the “talk”).  Wearing the member glove, the responsibility is to act in a manner to assure the board’s decisions are carried out (the “walk”).
If these do not go hand in hand, the organization will operate at a severe handicap.
How do we hearten board members to “talk” and “walk” at the same time?  

 Boards and Fundraising: Both Reasonable and Unreasonable.
We must give voice to what’s in our hearts.
We start by helping them find their voice .  I like to connect/reconnect folks to their passion for the mission.  Help them find the fire in their belly that inspires philanthropy. What drew them to the organization? What stories inspired them? What values are they invested in furthering? How is our organization helping them feel better about themselves and their contribution to society? Sure, there are some who just want to pad their resume. But more often than not this is just an accusation leveled by a staff that is not doing its job to engage its board. Like anyone else, boards need to be nurtured and coached. Otherwise, it’s unreasonable to ask them to go to bat.  
Most board members truly want to be helpful. 
standing up Boards and Fundraising: Both Reasonable and Unreasonable.
We have to learn to walk
Next, we help them find accessible ways they can take a stand.  Of course, we need them all to be involved in helping us raise more money. Money is what makes the nonprofit viable. It’s reasonable to put this responsibility on all members, rather than excusing those who say they don’t like to ask. There is more than one way to skin this cat.
For some excellent resources on a range of “ambassador”, “advocate” and “asking” strategies, check out:
 Boards and Fundraising: Both Reasonable and Unreasonable.
If we think big, we can achieve the implausible.
Also, we need to put financing/fundraising within a larger strategic context.  If the board doesn’t see the big picture, they’re going to think too small. Small brings us down rather than lifting us up. It limits our vision and potential. Engage the board in strategic planning retreats (once every three years is good). It’s reasonable to expect the board to help raise funds to fulfill directions they’ve authorized.
  
If they create the plan they will be more invested in seeing it through to fruition.
Most important? Respectfully and persuasively secure a passionate gift from every board memberIt’s reasonable to stick to the adage that if you’re going to preach religion you have to get religion.  If someone is serving on a board, and not making a stretch gift that is significant to them, then they shouldn’t be on the board.  They should volunteer or join a committee or just be a donor (and all of these are laudable ways to be involved).  Because if boards don’t walk the talk, how can’t they expect to persuade anyone else to do so? 
Mahatma Gandhi said “you must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
What’s your biggest challenge in involving your board – and every member – in financing/fundraising?