The Ask Should Be A No Brainer

Here’s my No Brainer Ask principle. The strength of your relationship with someone directly correlates with the amount of time it takes that person to say yes to one of your requests. If you’ve built the trust, if you’ve been generous, if you’ve given more than you’ve received, the ask — when you make it… Read more

A Ferris Bueller Trick: Break the Fourth Wall Unpredictably

Ferris Bueller was far from the first comic lead to break the fourth wall and address the audience directly. Woody Allen (wait for 1:58), Groucho Marx (in Horse Feathers), and many others did it before Matthew Broderick’s iconic character endeared himself to 80’s audiences everywhere. No matter who’s at the helm, there’s something very powerful about… Read more

What does membership mean?

One organization I support as a member gives me discounts on concert tickets. They give me a monthly song-list podcast of tunes I haven’t heard before. And they give me a member hotline I can call to get tickets for visiting friends and family at a discount too. Another organization I support as a member… Read more

what makes you think you’re so special?

One of my favorite Sopranos moments came in the first season in an exchange between Livia “Sunshine” Soprano and her grandson A.J. Ever the irrepressible optimist, Livia blurts out: “It’s all a big nothing. What makes you think you’re so special.” It’s a question non-profits ask themselves every day, admittedly in less psychotic circumstances. The… Read more

Wrinkles are a-ok, but what about the next generation of American giving?

My favorite Who song is My Generation. Even if you don’t dig 1960’s Brit rock anthems, chances are you still like talking about the differences (and similarities) between generations. Sea Change — along with Blackbaud and Edge Research — is doing just that and digging into charitable giving differences and similarities between Gen Y, Gen… Read more

Is reality the new new thing?

Meanwhile, back in the real world… The latest crop of up and comers in cybertopia share an interesting quality – they use technology to make our real lives better. Anyone who has witnessed the Soviet bread line of a taxi queue at Union Station in DC will have a special affection for Uber. And AirBnB… Read more

Storytelling Gold

It was Andy Goodman who sent me down the storytelling bunny hole. He remains the non-profit sector’s most important ninja of narrative. This recent interview Bridgespan conducted with Andy  is  the storytelling must-read of the month. Even in this “count and quantify everything” environment we are in right now, it’s still the story that will determine whether… Read more

Need to change minds? Make a weaker argument.

Liberals are baby-killers. Conservatives won’t let women control their own bodies. Conservatives are oil-guzzlers who hate the planet. Liberals are chicken littles who don’t understand the cost of energy. Often, the arguments that we most frequently use to try to change our opponents minds — in policy debates, in communications work, in storytelling — are… Read more

Are you the most interesting man (or woman) in the world? Stop talking about it.

I met someone over the weekend who reminded me of this guy – the most interesting man in the world. He said thought-provoking things. He described his work with passion and zest. He regaled me with stories about mountain climbing. But he never once asked anything about me and I lost interest in our conversation… Read more