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Just For Nonprofits: Effective Fund-Raising Is Not A Technique, It's A Way of Being
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Just For Nonprofits: Effective Fund-Raising Is Not A Technique, It's A Way of Being - Executive Leadership Articles

Just For Nonprofits: Effective Fund-Raising Is Not A Technique, It's A Way of Being

Executive Leadership Articles

Just For Nonprofits: Effective Fund-Raising Is Not A Technique, It's A Way of Being

"Listening is not a technique. It's a way of being," say Jennifer McCrea and Jeffrey C. Walker in The Generosity Network: New Transformational Tools for Successful Fund-Raising (Random House, 2013). It's an excellent, powerful statement, and it points to something we've probably all observed about people who are truly excellent in their fields: while excellence in any endeavor is certainly the result of honing important skills, the truly great don't simply learn these skills and sharpen them. They absorb the critical elements of these skills so that the skills become a part of who they are. Similarly, great teachers note individual challenges and strengths for each student; great athletes react automatically to anomalies in expected game situations, and great speakers read audiences' moods in just a few early reactions. Though the authors address good listening with theirassertion, they really sum up their whole approach with this theme, one that rings true across a multitude of disciplines.

While McCrea and Walker provide an organized set of methods and techniques in the form of practical advice for creating, nurturing, and maintaining networks of givers, their approach leans heavily toward developing the fundraiser as a person, one for whom healthy relationships with donors is a natural result of being a certain way first and doing certain things second. Not only does the book lead with an examination of who we are and why fund-raising seems so difficult, but each subsequent chapter ends with thought exercises aimed at getting to the roots of our hang-ups and trying to overcome them. They ask questions about our attitudes about money, about how money was talked about while we were growing up, and how we think about money in our personal lives today.

It is a decidedly touchy-feely approach, one that might be difficult for some readers to dive into. In the book's first chapter, and a few other times throughout, we are reminded that giving is emotional, that giving is personal, that giving makes people happy, and that giving is social. There are reasoned, logical approaches to the whole concept of charitable giving, and the authors lay many of them out, but they underscore the feely aspect even while presenting a whole chapter on methods for approaching a first meeting with a potential giver, or another whole chapter on "the ask," that moment in the relationship the fund-raiser and donor are both waiting for.

One interesting facet of the authors' approach echoes some of the advice we've considered in our networking articles: the network of generous donors not only as wish-fulfillers for our organizations but as valuable resources for others and as people with their own needs as well. Seen this way, the successful fund-raiser maintains a meaningful connection with givers as an important web of people who might help each other out, with the fund-raiser as the potential catalyst for others' mutual benefit. This approach focuses on the network as a living, dynamic affiliation of people, including our own fund-raisers, who might be of service to one another. In serving as the bridge between others in need, we add value to our network, which in the long run is of benefit to us even if in the short run the apparent benefit is someone else's.

Whether your mindset is clinical and practical or decidedly get-in-touch-with-your-inner-fund-raiser, there is valuable advice in The Generosity Network, but those with the latter approach will find much more to reflect on. The intention of the authors is to convince us to seek excellence in fund-raising as an expression of who we are, and not what we know how to do.

 

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Just For Nonprofits: Effective Fund-Raising Is Not A Technique, It's A Way of Being - Executive Leadership Articles

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