I do a lot of reading as a non-profit consultant and blogger. I subscribe to other people’s blogs (e.g. Marc Pitman, Jeff Brooks, Seth Godin, etc). I subscribe to e-newsletters (e.g. Tom Ahern, Pamela Grow, etc). I allow companies like Blackbaud, DonorPath, Network for Good and Convio to send me awesome whitepapers, eBooks, etc.
I love to read. I believe you cannot thrive (let alone survive) in our industry unless you’re a lifelong learner and committed to continuous improvement and evolution. There are lots of ways to achieve this goal. I prefer to read.
So, when my friend — Henry Freeman — told me that he just published a book and wanted to sit down and talk about it, I couldn’t resist an invitation like THAT.
I won’t go into the details, but I walked away from that meeting with a suspicion that my life was about to change (or at the very least, my life was about to become clearer). After consuming Henry’s book in two short airplane rides, I am now totally convinced my life has been touched and I am different.
Here is a short excerpt from Henry’s book — Unlacing the Heart — from page 2:
“One of the most visible hats I wear is that of a fundraising consultant. As is true of most professions, a rather generic title like “fundraiser” tells you very little about who I am and what I actually do. When someone learns that I am a fundraiser, the conversation usually drifts off into a discussion of his or her work and occupation. Yet I do no see myself as a person who simply helps organizations raise money. I am a person blessed with the desire and capacity to hear people’s stories and help them build their dreams.”
I felt the same way after reading Penelope Burk’s book, Donor Centered Fundraising. However, Henry’s book added to that experience.
When I read Penelope’s book, which was full of data-facts-figures, I understood more deeply why I loved resource development and fundraising. The idea of “donor-centered fundraising” resonated with me because I never saw myself as a “solicitor of funds“. I loved the relationship building aspect of resource development and felt a sense of fulfillment when talking to people about their philanthropic passions and working with them on finding ways to make their vision a reality.
When I read Henry’s book, my epiphany was that “philanthropy” is spiritual in nature. Relationship building requires finding a sacred and vulnerable space for both the the fundraising professional and the donor. AND this isn’t a fundraising tactic. It is a human trait that good professionals who love their jobs just so happen to possess (or ultimately find inside themselves).
Here is a short excerpt from Henry’s book — Unlacing the Heart — from page 98:
“For fundraisers and members of most professions, the “hat we wear” clearly states that our presence in the room with another human being is primarily grounded in what we do to pay the bills. Indeed, few people will trust you (nor should they) if at any point you try to disown the professional role that brings you to their door and into their lives. There are, however, many opportunities to move relationships to a deeper level while still working within the boundaries framed by the professional roles we play.”
If you are someone who loves the spirituality aspects of philanthropy, then you’re going to love this book!
If you are someone who loves the relationship building aspects of resource development, then you’re going to love this book!
If you are someone who loves the storytelling nature of fundraising, then you’re going to love this book!
Philanthropy is so much more than asking people for money in an effort to sustain our non-profit institutions. Henry demonstrates that so clearly through a series of stories about:
- his journey to El Salvador
- his mentor relationships with Henri Nouwen and Herb Cahoon
- his professional relationship with Margaret
- his personal relationship with Alfredo
As I read this book, I found myself moved to tears, which is how I know Henry was unlacing my heart and helping me tap into what I love most about philanthropy and my job. I am confident that he will do the same for you.
This book is a “MUST READ” for anyone who works in our field and aspires to find meaning and fulfillment in this work.
Here’s to your health!
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC