Philanthropic fundraising is deeply misunderstood.
In its worst caricature, the lowly fundraiser goes, hat in hand, to the wealthy benefactor, asking for scraps from the table for his good-doing charity.
For years, fundraising has been reinventing itself, taking its rightful place at the center of organizations’ missions and as an amplifying force for both community and messaging. And yet, the old imagery still hangs on, holding both the profession and the philanthropic sector back from realizing its true potential.
While I haven’t been a full-time philanthropic fundraiser for more than a decade, the lessons I learned about in that role, about connection, storytelling, and building partnerships, have continued to serve me well in the intervening years. They have informed, among other things, how I approach sales, how I understand high-stakes decision-making, and how I think about building a like-minded community for change.
Recently, I had the chance to reflect on these and many other lessons with the wonderful Mallory Erickson on her What the Fundraising podcast.
In the podcast, Mallory and I talk about overcoming the power dynamics in fundraising, the lessons to be learned from Adam Grant’s Give and Take, and how we can stay grounded in high-stakes conversations. Most of all, we talk about why fundraising is “the work,” it is not something off to the side.
As a bonus, Mallory and I touch on the wordplay between 60 Decibels and 60 Disciples [sic], why social impact measurement has just been as misunderstood as fundraising, and why #listening is the first steps towards rebalancing power and allocating capital where it can make the most difference.