114 episodes

Asking Fundraising’s Difficult Questions

fundraisingtalent.substack.com

The Fundraising Talent Podcast Jason Lewis

    • Business
    • 4.5 • 26 Ratings

Asking Fundraising’s Difficult Questions

fundraisingtalent.substack.com

    Do fundraisers understand the nuances of corporate giving?

    Do fundraisers understand the nuances of corporate giving?

    How many prospective funders agree to meet as a simple courtesy only to pass up the opportunity that has been presented to them? What if a better understanding of how corporations go about their decision-making processes could reduce the fundraiser’s workload and increase the likelihood of winning a corporation’s support? These are the kind of questions that today’s conversation with Lori raises. Lori reminds nonprofit leaders that, while they certainly see their cause as a top priority, unless they have caught the attention of their prospective funders in a meaningful way, they’re simply one of many items on a to-do list that never stops growing.
    Lori is the author of The Boardroom Playbook: The Not So Ordinary Guide to Corporate Funding for Your Purpose Driven Organization. Lori’s book is an effort to ensure that nonprofit leaders don’t knock on the doors of corporate funders without first making sense of the dynamics that play out among those on other side of the table. Lori is the founder and CEO of Growth Owl, LLC, a consultancy aimed at empowering nonprofits, startups, and associations with the tools needed to achieve their fundraising goals. Before bombarding our prospective corporate funders with exhausting proposals, Lori wants nonprofit leaders to avoid the drama, design brevity in their communications, and understand the nuances of corporate giving.
    The Fundraising Talent Podcast is underwritten by Responsive Fundraising, a professional learning community committed to helping clients create places where fundraising can thrive. For more information, message our managing partner, Michael J. Dixon.


    This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit fundraisingtalent.substack.com

    • 43 min
    Are nonprofits relying on too much play-it-safe fundraising?

    Are nonprofits relying on too much play-it-safe fundraising?

    Angie’s journey as a writer has always been about making sense of leadership, taking risks, and helping people realize their potential. Her latest book, Bet On You, is about demystifying what it means to take risks and seeing risk as the path to opportunity rather than getting anxious and worried about what might come of our decisions. Today’s conversation with Angie reminds me of what we just heard from our previous guests: those who dare to make the boldest asks are those who achieve the most extraordinary results.
    Our conversation has us grappling with the question of whether nonprofits are reliant on too much play-it-safe fundraising. Angie wants us to remember that there comes a time when playing it safe no longer works. How many of our organizations have been checking all the right boxes and playing by the rules only to realize that we’re not achieving our goals and would really enjoy more fun and excitement in our work. Angie suggests that, when we get to this point, we have to look at risk as an opportunity to lean into rather than an impediment to fear and avoid.
    The Fundraising Talent Podcast is underwritten by Responsive Fundraising, a professional learning community committed to helping clients create places where fundraising can thrive. For more information, message our managing partner, Michael J. Dixon.


    This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit fundraisingtalent.substack.com

    • 42 min
    What sets a good fundraiser apart from a great one?

    What sets a good fundraiser apart from a great one?

    I confess, I don’t read a lot of books about fundraising; I have always found them to be either too tactical or little more than chatter about manipulative gimmicks aimed at getting us into Mrs Smith’s pocketbook. However, Amy and Josh’s BeneFactors: Why Some Fundraising Professionals Always Succeed is neither of these. Rather, it’s a refreshing and enjoyable read written by two fundraisers who are both committed to their craft and understand the complexity of what it means to raise extraordinary dollars in the twenty-first century.
    Josh and Amy set out to create a book that not only inspires a new generation of fundraising leaders, but also provides a practical guide for nonprofit executives to raise up new development professionals for the field.
    In our conversation today, we cover a lot of territory, reflecting on Amy and Josh’s thoughts about how we relate to donors, what sets a good fundraiser apart from a great one, and what role mentors play in our professional journeys. I especially enjoyed hearing Amy and Josh talk about what it means to achieve “relentless alignment” with our donors and what impact their faith traditions have had in their pursuits as fundraisers.
    As always, we are grateful to our friends at CueBack for sponsoring The Fundraising Talent Podcast.
    If your organization wants to make sense of raising extraordinary levels of support by way of meaningful relationships and higher expectations, our team at Responsive would welcome the opportunity to help you do that. If you’re interested in learning more, email me and/or our managing partner, Michael Dixon. We will be happy to volunteer an hour to get to know you and to explore with you what a partnership with our team might look like.


    This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit fundraisingtalent.substack.com

    • 52 min
    357 | Does your nonprofit need a Fundraising CEO at the helm?

    357 | Does your nonprofit need a Fundraising CEO at the helm?

    Several years ago I began paying close attention to the places where expectations of the nonprofit leader were evolving from an internally-focused leader whose expertise closely aligned with the organization’s program and services, to an externally-focused leader whose expertise aligned with leading a complex organization reliant on the support of a diverse constituency. I’ve had the greatest opportunities to make the most sense of this while consulting with boards that expected their senior leaders to assume the posture of what I routinely refer to as the Fundraising CEO.
    Much of my conversation today with Bradley on The Fundraising Talent Podcast is reminiscent of conversations that I’ve had with board members, CEO’s, and their teams about what it means to have a Fundraising CEO at the helm. It’s not a role for everyone, and not every organization is ready for it. Leveraging the strengths of a Fundraising CEO isn’t about fundraising, per se. It has a lot more to do with organizational design, professional development, and distributed leadership.
    As a serial entrepreneur and the CEO of a growing nonprofit organization, Bradley has had to think a lot about the role he plays and the expectations he has for those with whom he surrounds himself. In this role, he has thought a lot about how to design the organization in a way that allows him to develop meaningful relationships with donors who can be counted on for sustainable support. Bradley explained that much of it comes down to knowing what everyone’s superpowers are and then confidently delegating responsibilities accordingly.
    As always, we are grateful to our friends at CueBack for sponsoring The Fundraising Talent Podcast.
    If your organization wants to make sense of raising extraordinary levels of support by way of meaningful relationships and higher expectations, our team at Responsive would welcome the opportunity to help you do that. If you’re interested in learning more, email me and/or our managing partner, Michael Dixon. We will be happy to volunteer an hour to get to know you and to explore with you what a partnership with our team might look like.


    This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit fundraisingtalent.substack.com

    • 38 min
    Is the traditional capital campaign overbuilt, highly inefficient, and clunky looking?

    Is the traditional capital campaign overbuilt, highly inefficient, and clunky looking?

    A couple of weeks ago my friend Jim Langley managed to stir up a lot of conversation with his suggestion that the traditional approach to a capital campaign was ill-suited to the times. Jim likened the approach to the 1970 Oldsmobile 442, the legacy of which I discovered, after conferring with my dad, can be a rather controversial topic. Some suggest that the 442 is one of the worst cars on the planet; while others insist that it’s always gotten a bad rap and that, by comparison to other muscle cars, it deserves more credit.
    According to Jim’s argument, the 442 was a beautiful thing in its day; however, he insists that any rational person today would consider it overbuilt, highly inefficient, and clunky looking. My dad concurred that the 442 was high maintenance, but remarked that, despite that, it was certainly a fun ride - perhaps all that would be needed to “seal the deal” with particular major donors. He then managed to find a commercial which asked, “Wouldn’t it be nice if you had a 442?”
    Jim joins us on the podcast today along with our friend Bruce Flessner to further explore the comparison. Jim and Bruce, go head to head on whether the traditional campaign approach is out of date and in need of a replacement or, as some have said about the 442, is actually under-appreciated and worthy of more credit than its generally given. Both of my guests today have plenty of history with the traditional campaign: before launching his firm, Jim spent several decades carrying out capital campaigns in Higher Ed; and Bruce, who founded and led BWF, has spent most of his career assisting clients in Higher Ed and Healthcare to build successful advancement programs.
    Before we began our discussion, I shared with Bruce and Jim, I have been especially grateful for their willingness to engage with me, hearing out my criticisms of contemporary practices and never allowing our differences of opinion to get in the way of our professional camaraderie. What I have discovered about both of them is that, like myself, fundraising has always been more than a job; it’s a vocation and calling that warrants the sort of thoughtful and reflective debate that we enjoyed today.
    As always, we are grateful to our friends at CueBack for sponsoring The Fundraising Talent Podcast.
    If your organization wants to make sense of raising extraordinary levels of support by way of meaningful relationships and higher expectations, our team at Responsive would welcome the opportunity to help you do that. If you’re interested in learning more, email me and/or our managing partner, Michael Dixon. We will be happy to volunteer an hour to get to know you and to explore with you what a partnership with our team might look like.


    This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit fundraisingtalent.substack.com

    • 57 min
    Is bullying one of the reasons why fundraisers are unhappy?

    Is bullying one of the reasons why fundraisers are unhappy?

    Like many fundraisers, Kathryn describes her entrance into the profession as a search for meaningful work. For the most part, what she found was that facilitating the exchange of charitable gifts has been a rewarding experience and that it has afforded an opportunity to form valuable relationships with her colleagues. However, she also discovered that, at times, the job was lonely, stressful, and wrought with unreasonable expectations. She has dealt with demanding and creepy donors as well as bosses who lacked training and really didn’t know what they were doing; her last supervisor was a vicious bully. As she has shared these experiences with others, she has discovered that they are far more common than they should be.
    Kathryn wants to know whether fundraisers are happy in their jobs and, if not, whether bullying is a factor in why they are unhappy. As a professor of practice at the John Martinson Honors College at Purdue University, Kathryn’s research isn’t aimed at just asking whether bullying is happening and to what extent; Kathryn wants to understand how bullying behavior manifests itself in the context of a fundraising environment. For example, are fundraisers going out in the field desiring genuine and meaningful relationships only to dreadfully fear returning to the office if they arrive without a check in hand?
    As I shared with Kathryn, I have long been of the opinion that the dark side of the predictive tools we employ will become increasingly obvious as research like this is undertaken. I would insist that, in the next decade, studies like Kathryn’s are going to demonstrate that our wholesale embrace of tactics borrowed from the marketplace and designed to predict and control human behavior are going to backfire and that the evidence is going to be easy to find in this kind of research. It is my hope that Kathryn’s findings are the sort that allow us to clearly understand where our tactics cross the line and where we’re betraying the spirit of a gift.
    If you’d like to anonymously participate in this study, click here.
    As always, we are grateful to our friends at CueBack for sponsoring The Fundraising Talent Podcast.


    This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit fundraisingtalent.substack.com

    • 45 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
26 Ratings

26 Ratings

CJThomas6 ,

Great show!

Love the topics and guests Jason brings on! Must listen for anyone in fundraising.

tommye w-c ,

Great

Keen fundraising insights!

copekindness ,

Great content

Such valuable insight for fundraisers. Keep it coming!

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