Your brain is not enough

Critical thinking is important, but it’s also over-rated. When faced with choices and decisions, you have at least two equally important sources of wisdom and guidance. First there’s your heart. Second, and surprisingly, there’s your gut. You have roughly 100 million neurons in your digestive system, so much that scientists refer to it sometimes as… Read more

The bounty hunter thing, again

Small wonder that the average tenure of a development director is only slightly longer than the lifespan of a fruit fly. If donors are walking ATMs to many executive directors, then development directors are bounty hunters. And too often, scapegoats. Great piece in the Chronicle of Philanthropy this week succinctly titled “Development Directors are not… Read more

Forget about the money

I often am introduced as a “fundraiser who doesn’t care about the money.” It always gets a laugh at conferences, but the irony is that in many respect it’s true. To me, the rewards of fundraising lie in fostering a community of people united around an urgent cause. That they express their solidarity with their… Read more

When intuition fails

As an aspiring storyteller I love the Flannery O’Connor quote “I find everyone thinks they know what a story is until they sit down to write one.” It’s hard and there’s so much more to it than you think. And much of it is not intuitively obvious. I’ve come to realize that the same can… Read more

Data Shmata

Maybe I am the only one who feels this, but the hyper obsession with data – big, small, hairy, long-limbed – seems a bit over the top. I’ve been listening to Dan Goleman’s Primal Leadership on tape, and he raises some big questions about the limit of data-driven anything. What about intuition? What about heart?… Read more

A Culture of Philanthropy: Further Reading

For attendees at Rachel Muir’s and my AFP Presentation, and for anyone who is interested, here are the links to the two documents I cited: Haas Foundation Report on Culture of Philanthropy Transforming Organizations

Don’t educate your donors

Don’t try to educate your donors. The refrain of “we have to educate the donors” typically comes from a perfectly reasonable but utterly flawed notion: That if you, the donor, knew what I knew, you’d care about the things I care about. So instead of caring about furry animals with big eyes, I’m going to… Read more

Pick up the damn phone

Full disclosure: I generally hate the phone. I’d mostly be happier in an all-text, all-email world. But that’s just me. And it’s almost certainly not the case for most of your donors. We’ve been helping with thank you calls for a number of organizations and the donors never fail to be surprised and delighted that someone… Read more

Treating donors like $hit is bad fundraising

Why am I telling you something you already know??? Because chances are, you’re treating your donors like $hit. Here’s the problem: knowing and doing are two different things. Before you get all triggered, if you are treating your donors like $hit, it’s largely due to forces beyond your control. If there’s one thing we’ve learned… Read more