A parade of fundraising leaders and role models

This week at DonorDreams we are talking about what it looks like to be a fundraising “LEADER”. Today, we cap the week off by looking at one smart teenager and a few organizations that provide “thought leadership” in the area of charitable giving. I hope this week’s series of blog posts on fundraising thought leadership inspired you to become a teacher in your little corner of the world when it comes to philanthropy.

I’ve spent most of my life working in the youth development field. If there is one thing I know, it is that kids know everything. Just ask them!  LOL  So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that at 14-years-old Freddi Zeiler wrote a book that “teaches us” how to: give time and money, donate goods, and organize charity events.

The book is titled “A Kids Guide to Giving“. I highly recommend that every fundraising professional secure a copy because we can all learn a lot as fundraising leaders from Freddi’s TPOV.

In Wednesday’s post titled “What is your teachable point of view around fundraising?” I talked about the importance of leaders developing their TPOV. Apparently, no one had to teach Freddi the importance of this idea because her TPOV came through loud and clear. To give you just a little taste, here are a few of the “ideas” she puts forth on fundraising:

  • Look into your heart.
  • Support a cause you love.
  • There are lots of ways to help!
  • You can make a difference.

It takes some non-profit professionals and volunteers a very long time to learn these inspirational and fundamental fundraising lessons.

As we talked about in Tuesday’s post titled “Are you and your non-profit agency fundraising leaders?” Noel Tichy believes that leaders are teachers. This aligns with what I think and how I end most of the posts here at the DonorDreams blog when I say: “we can all learn from each other”. It is for this reason I highlighted Freddi this morning as a fundraising leader. However, leaders don’t necessary have to be individuals . . . they can be organizations that embody and bring to life inspirational ideas, values and emotional energy and edge on the topic of philanthropy and fundraising.

Two such organizations in my mind are The Robin Hood Foundation and United Way of America.

The Robin Hood Foundation has been in operation since 1988 and focused on eliminating poverty in New York City. What I love about this foundation is their TPOV:

  • The foundation focuses on attacking the “roots” of poverty and not throwing money at alleviating the symptoms;
  • The foundation doesn’t just write a check and walk away from the project. They roll up their sleeves and partner with their grant recipients by providing and securing technical assistance to help maximize the potential of the program they just funded.
  • The foundation is results-oriented and helps their partners set goals, measure progress, collect data, and benchmark success. After working with their grantees on these parts of the project, they then hold them accountable to achieving all of it.

United Way of America is the grand-daddy of all philanthropic thought leaders in America. For the last 125 years, they have helped donors collectively find their philanthropic muscles and tackle difficult social problems in communities all across America.

I could spend hours talking about United Way’s workplace campaign. I could also spend days talking about their community impact model that focuses on big goals like improving education, helping people find financial stability during tough economic times, or promoting healthy lifestyles and communities. While all of this is inspirational, the thing that most inspires me as a fundraising professional is how United Way empowers many individuals with its message around giving, advocating and volunteering.

In my non-profit work throughout the years, I’ve bumped into too many people who are not wealthy and see themselves as tiny actors on the very large stage of life. These people have a hard time seeing themselves as philanthropists because they don’t think their ability to make a small charitable contribution will change anything. United Way works tirelessly as a “fundraising teacher” every year to empower donors.

The message that “even a few dollars per paycheck, when combined with everyone else’s few dollars, can change the world” is an empowering message and something we should all take to heart and learn to teach. We all need to dedicate ourselves to teaching donors how to make their money and time turn into something impactful. If every fundraising professional in America took this to heart, can you even imagine what those charitable giving pie charts published every year by Giving USA would look like? OH MY!

So, are you ready to embrace your professional calling as a non-profit fundraising professional or volunteer differently? What is your teachable point of view? What individuals (e.g. Bill Clinton or Freddi Zeiler) or organizations (e.g. Robin Hood Foundation or United Way) do you look to for inspiration to develop and inspire your TPOV?

Please scroll down and use the comment box to share your thoughts on these questions because we can all learn from each other”.   🙂

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC

Leader and philanthropist: Bill Clinton

This week at DonorDreams we are talking about what it looks like to be a fundraising “LEADER”. Today, we will continue our work by examining Bill Clinton’s teachable point of view around philanthropy, which he details in his 240 page book titled “Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World“. Tomorrow, we will cap the week off by looking at a variety of organizations that provide t”hought leadership” in the area of charitable giving.

Earlier this week I wrote blog posts titled “Are you and your non-profit agency a fundraising leader?” and “What is your teachable point of view around fundraising?“. If I had to capture these posts in a few words, it would be . . . leaders are teachers and they always have a teachable point of view (TPOV). After reading Bill Clinton’s book on “Giving,” regardless of whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, it would be impossible to argue that Clinton doesn’t has a TPOV on philanthropy and that he uses his book as a vehicle to teach us how to be more charitable.

Clinton shares a wealth of “Ideas” (remember this is one of the three elements of a TPOV) through his book including: much still needs to be done in our communities; everyone can giving; charitable giving doesn’t have to just be money but can also include time or things or skills; and we have an obligation to each other (which kind sounds like Hillary’s “it takes a village” mantra).

Identifying Clinton’s “Values” (remember this is the second of the three elements of a TPOV) and principles  throughout his book isn’t difficult. A few of those values were: duty, service over self, compassion, life, and self-sufficiency.

Finally, his “emotional energy and edge” (remember this is the final piece of the three TPOV elements) is loud and clear in every chapter of the book. I think this quote from Clinton captures it best:

“I wrote this book to encourage you to give whatever you can, because everyone can give something. And there’s so much to be done, down the street and around the world. It’s never too late or too early to start.”

This call to action echoes Dr. Martin Luther King’s inspirational words: “Everyone can be great because everyone can serve.”  Clinton’s book reads like a manual for the average person in America on how a private citizen doesn’t have to have an extraordinary Presidential life story in order to make a difference.

Bill Clinton as a philanthropic leader and teacher? ABSOLUTELY!!!! And he is someone we can all learn a lot from.

Perhaps, my favorite part of this book is where Clinton reminds us of why donors give of themselves.

“Why do some people give so much while others give the bare minimum or not at all? I’ve thought about this a lot, and it seems to me we all give for a combination of reasons, rooted in what we think about the world in which we live and what we think about ourselves. We give because we think it will help people today or give our children a better future; because we feel morally obligated to do so out of religious or ethical convictions; because someone we know and respect asked us; or because we find it more rewarding and more enjoyable than spending more money on material possessions or more time on recreation or work.

When people don’t give, I think the reasons are simply the reverse. They don’t believe what they could do would make a difference, either because their resources are limited or they’re convinced efforts to change other people’s lives and conditions are futile. They don’t feel morally obligated to give. No one has ever asked them to do so. And they believe they’ll enjoy life more if they keep their money and time for themselves and their families.”

Sorry for including such a long quote from Clinton, but I find these words to be truly inspiring. I also believe that EVERY non-profit organization can use this passage to evaluate their comprehensive resource development program by asking:

  • What are you doing to demonstrate to donors and the community at-large that your agency’s programs “make a difference”?
  • What are you doing to show both large and small donors that regardless of how small the contribution might be that it is important, valued, appreciated, and transformational?
  • How does your agency and your staff, board members, volunteers and donors model the morality-values-principles associated with philanthropy? And how do you do this in a way that inspires others to jump on the bandwagon?
  • How are you asking others to join you? Is it all about the impersonal email, newsletter, social media post, telephone call or snail-mail letter? Or are you and your volunteers getting out into the community and “pressing the flesh”?
  • Studies demonstrate that people who make philanthropic contributions (e.g. time, talent or treasure) are “happier” people. Do you and your volunteers look happy or are you making charitable giving and service look dreary and hard?

I encourage you to read Bill Clinton’s book because it reads like a love letter to the non-profit community and an instructional manual for donors as well as non-profit organizations!

Have you read the book? What were your impressions or lessons learned? If not a high-profile leader like Bill Clinton, who have you looked to as a philanthropic leader? What life lesson did you learn from that person?

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC

Are you and your non-profit agency a fundraising leader?

This week at DonorDreams we are talking about what it looks like to be a fundraising “LEADER”. Today, we will frame the issue using a few of Noel Tichy’s ideas around leadership. The rest of the week we will examine other points of view on the subject as well as examples of good leaders.

Noel Tichy is an iconic figure in the field of leadership. He has authored and co-authored the following books on this very popular subject: Control Your Destiny or Someone Else Will, The Leadership Engine, and Judgment: How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls. While it would be impossible to summarize all of what Tichy believes about leadership into this very small blog post, I believe the following key principles from chapter three of The Leadership Engine captures some of it nicely:

  • Leaders accomplish their goals through the people they teach
  • Leaders teach others to be leaders, not followers
  • Leaders consider teaching on their primary roles
  • Leaders use every opportunity to learn and to teach
  • Leaders have clear ideas and values, based on knowledge and experience
  • Leaders articulate those lessons to others

In that same chapter of the book, Tichy quotes former Honeywell CEO, Larry Bossidy, as saying:

“How am I doing as a leader? The answer is how are the people you lead doing?”

Hmmmm . . . all of this got me thinking! If leaders teach and if leaders can be evaluated by those they lead, then would Tichy advocate that a non-profit and fundraising leader be evaluated through a “donor lens”?

After some careful consideration, I think Tichy would probably agree and I think the following questions can shed lots of light on whether you are leading or just raising money:

  • Do your donors know what the goals of your agency are?
  • Do you know what your key donors’ personal goals are with regards to their philanthropy?
  • In your efforts to cultivate new prospective donors, do you teach them what to expect as a donor to your agency and how to engage your organization in being accountable to them and their fellow donors?
  • Do your donors know what your  agency’s values are? Do they see and echo your edge and emotional energy around your mission?
  • Do your donors enthusiastically go out into the community and teach others about your mission and enlist the support of new prospective donors?

If you can answer ‘YES’ to many of these questions, then congratulations . . . “You very well might be a fundraising leader.” If you fall a little short, then there might be a little bit of work for you to do.

And what does this work look like? Well, I’m happy to say it is probably something you should fold into your existing donor stewardship efforts (e.g. focus groups, donor surveys, stewardship receptions with a mission-focus, engaging donors in prospect cultivation efforts, etc).

How do you propose we take measure of whether or not you and your agency are non-profit and fundraising leaders? Does it even matter to you or do you think it is more important to just focus on fundraising outputs (e.g. cash raised, goals attained, etc)? Are you trying to create what Tichy refers to as a “virtuous teaching cycle” with your donors? If so, what does that look like?

Please scroll down and share your thoughts on some of these questions in the comment box because we can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC