Education Is Generous Change

May 18, 2018

We're watching Malala Yousafzai on David Letterman's new Netflix show, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. Malala, now in her first year at Oxford, reminds us that education is independence, identity, equality and a basic human right.

When Dave asked about forgiveness and meaning, Malala said, "I saw death so close and I realized that maybe this life is for a purpose. I decided that I would give this life to girls' education and speak out for them. We have to die one day. Why not do good and do as much as we can to help others?"

The Malala Fund's mission is to help the 130 million girls in the world who are out of school to learn and lead without fear.

The Fund's powerful message gives us goosebumps:

If one girl with an education can change the world, what can 130 million do?

We also love this Stephen Colbert video for another peek at the lighter side of Malala.

We are in awe of the late Sylvia Bloom, who, in her will, left more than $8 million to support scholarships for...

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Friday Inspirations, Episode 16 :)

May 11, 2018

Wow! We are watching Gates, Rockefeller, and Chan Zuckerberg take aim at poverty in the U.S. We geek out on seeing theories of change in action.

The Gates Scholarships embrace education as the way out of poverty and reward the best and brightest. Rockefeller and Chan Zuckerberg's Communities Thrive Challenge lifts up communities' own innovative, scalable solutions. 

If you do community work to alleviate/eliminate inequality, check out the Challenge! Grants are $1 million plus technical assistance and big publicity for results. Amazing!

We are reading The Culture Code, on how groups get and stay successful. Belonging is, unsurprisingly, at the center. Turns out the amygdala, that old reptilian part of our brains, not only spurs fight-or-flight, it also detects "belonging cues" and uses "immense unconscious neural horsepower to build and sustain your social bond." Fun fact: 

  • People at a train station during a rain storm were approached by a stranger....
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Fundraisers! Stand up. Stand out.

May 04, 2018

Congratulations to our graduates of Fund Development Institute!

We are ridiculously proud of these 21 amazing humans. They put up with us for FIVE full days of intensive learning. Because they were so truly awesome, Nancy and I said "yay" about 6000 times, clapped, jumped up and down, threw candy at them and threatened to do cartwheels.

We covered an insane amount of fundraising essentials, like:

  • Making a sparkling, irresistible case
  • Finding new donors
  • How to get the visit - the email formula & cold-calling
  • How to turn the conversation to $
  • The keys to killer cultivation
  • The Pre-Ask, the Ask & follow up
  • How to handle "no"
  • Stellar thanks
  • Board members as fundraisers
  • Writing for donors
  • Career development

This week, our hard-working fundraisers inspired us to re-read Seth Godin's Linchpin. This book challenges and inspires you to lead from wherever you are in your organization - to become indispensable. A linchpin invents, leads, connects, makes things happen, creates order...

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Better Boards

Apr 27, 2018

This week, we were lucky to listen to Anne Wallestad, CEO of BoardSource. She presented findings of their excellent report, Leading with Intent.

This survey of over 1,700 nonprofit leaders showed that 67% of executives and 64% of board chairs said fundraising performance needs to improve. So, if you're wishing your board would step up to raise money, you are not alone!

 Two things we can all do to help: 

  1. Be clear about fundraising expectations when recruiting and orienting new board members.
  2. Provide lots of "mission moments" so that board members really know what your org is up to and can tell personal stories about why it matters.

Check out the report for tons of nuggets on how to help your board be the one everyone wants to join - and the one that makes an inspiring difference.

Need a little help with board inspiration? We are reading THE POWER OF MOMENTS, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. This book is full of amazing ideas to provide moments of elevation,...

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You are a Badass

Apr 20, 2018

That's right! We said it.

You. Are. A. BADASS!

If you need a little reminder, refresher or reinforcement of how badass you really are, read Jen Sincero's books, You Are A Badass & You Are A Badass At Making Money

We are still fan-girling over Jen's talk this week at super awesome Watermark Books in Wichita.

She was irreverent, honest, sarcastic and inspiring - all the things you'd hope for in an author who titles chapters: Love the One You Is, Your Brain is Your Bitch and Gratitude: The Gateway Drug to Awesomeness.

I keep a copy of Jen's 10 Secrets to Being a Badass in my office. Here are 3 of my favorites:

  • Leap Large - Take risks. All the time. Big, hairy, scary ones. Thrilling and terrifying are opposite sides of the same coin - if you're serious about changing your life, you will be feeling them both. Often. They are excellent signs that you're on the right path. When you get an intuitive hit to do something scary, run straight towards it before the excuses start...
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Do you have Big Potential?

Apr 06, 2018

We don't know about you, but we are ready for some SPRING around here! Yesterday we were bouncing around in over 60 degrees; today, it will snow. Grrr.

Wishing you all some sunshine - whether literal or metaphorical. Here, we hope, is a little. 

We are reading Big Potential, by Shawn Achor, and man does this book fit the "Friday inspiration" bill. We can't recommend it highly enough.

It turns out happiness, productivity, and career achievement are all about... interconnection. 

The questions that drive success are no longer " How smart are you?" "How creative are you?" or "How hard do you work?" They are instead:

  • "How smart do you make others around you?"
  • "How much creativity do you inspire?"
  • "How much does your drive become contagious to a team or family?"

Even at hyper-competitive Harvard, those who achieved the most, both in college and after, were not the individual stars, they were the people who activated everyone around them.

Sounds generous, right? It's also...

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Friday Inspirations, Episode 11 :)

Mar 30, 2018

This has been an amazing week in America, Generous Changers!

We are truly blown away by this $29 million gift from the blockchain tech company, Ripple. With their cryptocurrency gift, Ripple funded every single project on DonorsChoose.org - a public school crowdfunding platform where teachers submit projects or classroom materials in need of funding, like this one from Mrs. McCarthy at Chaplain Watters Elementary School 24 in New Jersey. Her 6th through 8th graders are "...ravenous for books that are able to provide them with self to text connections." She's asked for $557 to buy a set of 66 novels. Anyone who loves a great book would agree with Mrs. McCarthy when she says, "We may not be able to take many trips, but these books would make for a wild adventure!"

Led by our amazing friend (and Jayhawk) Brad Garlinghouse, Ripple made the largest contribution of digital currency ever to a single charity. The gift will fund projects like Mrs. McCarthy's, submitted by over 28,200...

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Friday Inspirations, Episode 10 :)

Mar 23, 2018

Happy Friday, changemakers!

This week while working on branding (for ourselves and some of your orgs), we came across this quote

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

This feels especially resonant for fundraisers. Several of you have told us that it can be tempting to become a chameleon in donor conversations. (We've done it; it feels creepy.) Resist the temptation! As Emerson knew, you connect and inspire best when you are ... you. 

We're reading: Derek Black, an heir apparent in the white nationalist movement, until he attended New College of Florida. There, he was invited by fellow students to a Shabbat dinner, which he attended that first night and regularly for the next two years. "Outreach and discourse won't magically solve the problem of hate. But without those private conversations with people I cared about, I might not have seen the weaknesses in my arguments....

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Friday Inspirations, Episode 9 :)

Mar 16, 2018

Happy Friday! 

If you are looking to reinvigorate your work and achieve at the next level, we recommend this great read (picked up at the airport like most good books): Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better, and Achieve More, by Harvard B-School prof Morten Hansen. It has great insights for fundraisers.

Hansen identifies seven principles that "accounted for a whopping 66 percent" of variation in work performance while also providing "better work-life balance, higher job satisfaction, and less burnout." Who doesn't want that?

Here they are:

  1. Do less, then obsess: Choose just the few things that matter most and then absolutely obsess  - make huge efforts to do terrific work in those areas. (If you don't have it already, see our Purpose-Driven Productivity Formula!)
  2. Redesign your work: don't pursue goals, but value. For example, instead of "Visit with 150 donors," you might want to "Advance meaningful gift conversations with 100 donors." You know...
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Friday Inspirations, Episode 8 :)

Mar 09, 2018

This week has flown by. Hope it was a great one for you!

We led our very first Fundraisers' University course for 21 amazing nonprofit leaders in Kansas City. An awesome range of fundraisers and executive directors - from one-day-on-the-job to 12 years, from a $440K budget up to $1.2B - joined us at Nonprofit Connect. We threw candy at them, said "yay" about 27 times and left truly inspired by their drive, curiosity and missions.

We're feeling this quote from author Mary Anne Radmacher:

"As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way."

We're reading The Generosity Network. I can't believe it took us this long to find this beautiful fundraising book! Authors, Jennifer McCrea and Jeff Walker, are 1000% speaking our language, with chapters on "human-to-human connection," "transparency & vulnerability," and "the fundraiser as mentor and guide." If you love a good philosophical experiment, check out the Brave New World exercise on page 78. The goal is to help...

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