The Fundraising Talent Podcast

asking our profession's most difficult questions

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Thursday Nov 03, 2022

This is the first in a two-part conversation with the editors of Collecting Courage: Joy, Pain, Freedom, Love which has been described as “an honest, raw account” of the experiences of 14 Black charity leaders and fundraisers in North America. In response to the project’s success, the editors are convening readers who want to continue on the journey towards racial reconciliation and collective healing in our sector.
Nneka, Nicole, and Camila joined me to discuss both their book and The Path to Action Conference later this month. Nicole begins by helping us see in between the lines of her poetry and then challenges us to see the “jacket” - a metaphor for what our brown and black colleagues are expected to conform to in our sector. I can recall previous guests who have similarly described this jacket that many of us either remain unaware of or simply refuse to see. 
If this conversation stirs you, I would encourage you to accept the invitation that has been extended to us; for those who want to be co-conspirators in the fight for racial justice in our sector, for those who want to be equipped with the knowledge and tools that are required, and for those who want to make sense of their roles and responsibilities in ensuring greater freedom for everyone, register for the conference here. 
As always, we are especially grateful to our friends at CueBack for sponsoring The Fundraising Talent Podcast.

Sunday Oct 30, 2022

Heather wants charities to recognize that they may be vastly underestimating the value they bring to their corporate sponsors and that, in doing so, they may prohibit themselves from building mutually beneficial relationships that can bring far more value than simply financial support. Heather explains that we’re beyond the era of old-school corporate giving where the charity delivers on the good and the corporate sponsor just delivers on a check. Heather is the founder and president of The boutique fundraising consultancy, BridgeRaise, which helps nonprofits take their corporate giving efforts to a new level starting with aligning everyone’s values. 
Heather wants nonprofit leaders to see that they are bringing more to the table and have the opportunity to welcome their corporate sponsors into an active, co-creative type of relationship. The type of relationship Heather describes allows leaders to do away with the deficit-thinking that always postures the charity with their hands out, looking for a hero to rescue them. Rather than partnering with corporations who select their partners like members of a “flavor of the month club,” Heather wants charity leaders to seek out purpose-led corporations that can be counted on for sustainable, meaningful relationships that translate into the most signicant levels of support.
As always, we are especially grateful to our friends at CueBack for sponsoring The Fundraising Talent Podcast.

Thursday Oct 27, 2022

Greg kicked off today’s conversation with the suggestion that there is going to be an increasing divide between those shops whose fundraising efforts can thrive and those whose cannot. Greg believes a lot of this will be evident in the success or lack thereof in organizations’ planned giving efforts. While Greg insists these efforts don’t have to be especially complicated, our organizations will have to match our desire for these more significant gifts with the wherewithal to most effectively and appropriately negotiate, receive, and acknowledge them. Our team at Responsive appreciates that Greg is among our consulting colleagues who are allowing our Three Lanes Theory to inform some of his thinking on this.
During the second half of today’s conversation, it took an especially thought provoking turn when we posed the question of whether having higher expectations of the relationship rather than of the individuals involved in the exchange translates into greater success in planned giving. I was looking to connect Greg’s thoughts with that of author Aaron Dignan who insists that in the future we’re all going to have to be increasingly “complexity conscious”. This way of thinking recognizes that the most meaningful outcomes in a complex adaptive system, whatever they may be, emerge from the interactions in between us rather than from the behavior of any individual actor. 
As always, we are especially grateful to our friends at CueBack for sponsoring The Fundraising Talent Podcast.

Wednesday Oct 12, 2022

How does the assumption that our donors are intentionally hoarding wealth in a donor-advised fund help any of us accomplish our goals? And, perhaps more importantly, how does such negative spin help anyone make sense of why these tools have become so popular in the last several decades? While the critics want us to focus on changing legislation and trying to coerce generosity with additional rules and regulations, I say we ought to learn how to have more meaningful relationships with our donors. Will changing the rules necessarily improve our bottom-line or just make our jobs even harder than they already are?
My conversation today with Lisa and Stephen centered around what Princeton sociologist Viviana Zelizer in her book, The Social Meaning of Money, refers to as earmarking. Zelizer explains that human beings have always made a habit of earmarking monies that align with particular types of relationships. I asked Lisa and Stephen to wrestle with whether giving our donors the benefit of the doubt and applying Zelizer’s logic might help some of us see the use of donor-advised funds through a more optimistic lens. What Lisa and Stephen see is not an affluent donor who wants to hoard money. Rather, they see a donor who is increasingly deliberate and purposeful and whose giving is directed towards organizations that take the donor’s decision-making process as seriously as they do.
As always, we are grateful to our friends at CueBack for their continued support of The Fundraising Talent Podcast. 

Sunday Oct 02, 2022

Cathy is the development lead at Bloomberg Philanthropies. Bloomberg Philanthropies works to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people by focusing on five key areas: the arts, education, the environment, government innovation, and public health. Encompassing all of Mike Bloomberg’s giving, Bloomberg Philanthropies includes his foundation and corporate and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works with mayors in cities around the world.
During our conversation today, Cathy encourages us to embrace the obvious and, as a mentor once told her, “be open to people who sees things that you don’t, but should.” Cathy wants to encourage us to approach things with a conversational, exploratory, “how could we make sense of this differently” attitude. She encourages us to stop looking for moonshots and begin to embrace the obvious - what’s in arms-reach, accessible, and available to us. To this point, Cathy concludes with an example from a friend at the Harlem Children’s Zone who, during the pandemic, came to a realization of just how obvious the solutions really were.
As always, we are grateful to our friends at CueBack for their continued support of The Fundraising Talent Podcast. 

Wednesday Sep 28, 2022

Conversations of this sort have me convinced that the next generation of non-profiteers will think very carefully about whether to embrace the twentieth-century, consumer-oriented approach to fundraising to which many of us still remain very loyal. Dion has only been at this for a couple of years and has quickly figured out that contemporary fundraising has a tendency to focus on the short term, commodify the stories of those being served, and elevate the donors like kings and queens rather than as fellow citizens who share in a commitment to the same cause. 
Dion is the founder of Dion's Chicago Dream, a non-profit feeding those in neighborhoods without access to fresh food and produce. Food deserts, areas in which it is difficult to find affordable and healthy foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, affect every part of the city, with a larger presence in the South and West sides of Chicago. Dion’s initiative has expanded to assist residents in need in every Chicago neighborhood through the power of fresh, healthy food.
Before we wrapped up our conversation today, Dion shared his thoughts about how leaders should be interacting with funders. Dion explained that we shouldn’t be afraid to correct flawed assumptions nor should we allow inherent power dynamics to corrupt the relationship. Dion’s explanation reminded me of Jane Addam’s work at Hull House just over a century ago. In the same struggling Chicago neighborhoods, I suspect Addams would have characterized her work in much the same way that Dion did today - “We’re doing philanthropy differently.”
As always, we are especially grateful to our friends at CueBack for sponsoring The Fundraising Talent Podcast.

Monday Sep 26, 2022

Today’s podcast conversation with Ray Gary was fantastic. Why? Because Ray evidently doesn’t relate to the world like a technocrat who is convinced tech will save the planet. Ray certainly understands the role technology can and should play; however, he also understands that technology can’t be expected to do all the heavy lifting. Ray wants to see generosity become a habit and lifestyle rather than a one-off transactional experience that we’re often counting on technology to ensure happens. As the founder and CEO of IDonate, Ray believes that if applied correctly technology can amplify the good that the sector is already doing.
Our conversation today went in all sorts of directions - everywhere from why the nonprofit sector is so CRM centric to what Peloton can teach us about being a part of a dynamic community. Ray describes Peloton as an example of how an organization can transform a product or service into way of life. Ray explains that what makes Peloton such a remarkable concept is much less about the exercise bike and a lot about the community of Peloton users. Our conversation about the popularity of Peloton begs the question of how charitable organizations might create more community-centered experiences that allow their donors to form meaningful relationships with others who share a commitment to the same cause.
As always, we are especially grateful to our friends at CueBack for sponsoring The Fundraising Talent Podcast.

Monday Sep 12, 2022

My guest today on The Fundraising Talent Podcast is Paulina Artieda, executive director for The New Philanthropists, an organization that works to create more racially diverse and inclusive nonprofit boards in Austin. Their mission is to build a pipeline to leadership for people of color; cultivate diversity, equity, and inclusion among mainstream nonprofit boards; and enable nonprofits to be more effective stewards of public trust and to produce better outcomes for the people they serve. My conversation today with Paulina begs the question of whether our board recruitment strategies align with our DEI aspirations.
As Paulina and I got warmed up, we started wrestling with some of the questions boards should be asking themselves. Is it time to abandon any semblance of “give, get or get off,” the privilege of board members “buying” their way into their seats, or the habit of recruiting individuals who sit on boards everywhere else? What Paulina and her team want us to make sense of is that a board member is more than their financial gift, that boards have to ready themselves for cultural shifts, and that it all begins with cultivating genuine relationships. What I most appreciated about this conversation was how often we reminded ourselves that recruitment to any role, be it board members, major donors, or volunteers, needs to begin with our genuine desire to be in relationship those who are different from ourselves.
As always, we are especially grateful to our friends at CueBack for sponsoring The Fundraising Talent Podcast.

Thursday Sep 08, 2022

Madge challenged us this morning by asking what would it look like if more nonprofits accurately reflected the communities their organizations served. This is one of the conversations I have with my students every spring, and my career has afforded me opportunities to see where we’re getting this right and wrong. How do we ensure that our boards and bosses have a grasp of who they are serving and why? As Madge explained, studies have shown that less than 20% of nonprofits are led by people of color while the vast majority of our nonprofits serve communities of color. Much of our conversation today was about making sense of how to change this reality. 
Madge is the CEO at Mission Capital, a capacity building organization in Austin, that has been serving the region’s nonprofits for over 20 years. As Madge shared with me, Mission Capital’s explicit goals are three-fold: to close the racial leadership gap, to increase organizational resilience and sustainability, and to expand collaborative networks. What I most appreciated about our conversation today was how Madge described the organization as a place where the diversity of our sector can show up, where messiness is expected to happen, and where everyone leaves stronger by having participated in the conversation. 
The team at Mission Capital are individuals who are passionate about serving their community. They envision a Central Texas where leaders feel empowered to elevate their voices and where organizations are equipped to fulfill their missions. Our team at Responsive is delighted to be partnered with Madge and her team at Mission Capital as they host the first stop on our roadshow next week in Austin. If you’re interested in attending, sign up via our website here.
As always, we are especially grateful to our friends at CueBack for sponsoring The Fundraising Talent Podcast.

Tuesday Aug 30, 2022

One of our goals with our roadshow is to shine a spotlight on highly capable individuals who are helping their local nonprofit community to thrive. One such individual is Cat, founder of the Giant Squid Group, who I’m delighted will be a part of the lineup for our upcoming roadshow stop in Austin on September 16th. 
In our conversation today, Cat and I connected the dots between fundraising’s bad case of shiny new toy syndrome and the realization that a lot of these new toys aren’t actually delivering on their promises. What concerns Cat is the effect that these shiny new toys have on the professional development of young fundraisers and whether these new toys get in the way of learning how fundraising really works. Cat’s critique is similar to that of Lucy Bernholz who describes the effect of the “givingscape” as commodifying giving rather than democratizing it.
Today’s conversation has us asking whether making charitable giving fast, easy, and painless is really what we’re after or whether removing all the friction has the unintended consequence of making renewing donor’s support more challenging. As I often say, how we go about soliciting the initial gift will have a bearing on whether we can successfully secure the subsequent gift. 
If you would like to join Cat, Michelle, and myself in Austin for the first stop on the Resonsive Fudnraisinb Roadshow, we would be delighted to have you join us. To register, visit our website here. 
As always, we are especially grateful to our friends at CueBack for sponsoring The Fundraising Talent Podcast.


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