A Fresh Look at Fundraising


generosity networkSo…how much did you ask? How did the visit go? This is a common question that fundraisers are asked after they meet prospects.

In a new book, “The generosity network: New transformational tools for successful fundraising,” authors Jennifer McCrea and Jeffrey Walker take a fresh look at fundraising. The authors show that “creating a sense of meaning and personal fulfillment is at the heart of great fundraising.”

They oppose fundraising as a transaction-based relationship where the fundraiser meets the donor solely to secure a financial gift. The book argues that “fundraising is a vehicle for transformation- personal, organizational, social, even global.”

Narrating her early experience as a fundraiser in New York, Jennifer says every ask that she made focusing solely on securing a financial gift yielded a negative response.  She soon realized that fundraising was not just about the numbers. Instead, it is a “shared commitment as two people sit down and have a deep conversation about their lives.” Giving is emotional, personal, makes people happy and is social.

The authors oppose fact-based appeals used commonly in fundraising. They argue that  fundraisers should focus on why people want “meaning in their lives” and  not dwell on data-driven case statements. “Another slide show won’t work and the most important aspect of fundraising is to create human connections.”

They are also against canned elevator pitches, a tactic  commonly used by non-profits. Instead, they encourage non-profits to focus on authentic storytelling. “Do not inundate your audiences with data, instead tell them stories.”

The book urges non-profits to stop selling ideas to people and encourages them to  give donors “opportunities to connect with causes.” It offers several nuggets, including one where the authors ask fundraisers to consider donors as their peers, irrespective of their social or financial standing. Treat them as peers and move from the “salesmanship model to enabling people to contribute to a dream.”

Authentic storytelling gets reinforced throughout the book and it has abundant tips on how to make the ask. At the heart of every ask is a “powerful story of the self, the power of us and now.” A good read.

Teach kids to convert information into intelligence


Education should teach students to convert information to intelligence, said Jaime Casap, Google’s Global Education Evangelist. Casap was speaking at a recent kick-off event for the Arizona SciTech Festival in Scottsdale.

“The tools are all here and we do not need any further information. All we need is to convert this information into intelligence and do it well.”

Are our schools equipped to do that? Are teachers making efforts to teach a young generation to selectively use data, learn to interpret it well and actually use it in real life situations?

Education, according to Jaime needs to go through a radical design. “While we know that children learn in different ways, how do we make this happen?”

On a typical day, 1000 teachers quit the teaching profession in this country. There is a constant turnover of instructional leaders in middle schools and there is a crisis in educational leadership.

States like Arizona must “grow their own farms” to attract more high-tech industries, says Casap. “To do this we need to support incubators, offer tax breaks and interest rates for folks who want to stay here.”

“A quality workforce is what we need, not quantity,” he added. In the U.S. only 14 percent of students are graduating in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) fields. In China it is 42 percent while in Korea it is 32 percent.

We have only two options: either radically design education to fit the needs of the individual learner or stay with the factory model of the 1950s.

The choice is ours but time is not on our side.